Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) - Do I have it?
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a serious anxiety-related condition where a person experiences intrusive and unwelcome obsessive thoughts on a frequent basis, often followed by repetitive compulsions, impulses or urges.
Generally speaking, a person’s OCD will fall into one of the four main categories:
For many sufferers, there is often an over-inflated sense of responsibility to prevent harm and an over-estimation about the perceived threat that an intrusive thought signifies. It is these factors that help drive the compulsive behaviours, because the person with OCD often feels ultimately responsible for trying to prevent bad things happening.
OCD is diagnosed when the obsessions and compulsions:
OCD affects men and women equally, and generally begins to affect people during late adolescence (men) and during their early twenties (women). Sufferers often go undiagnosed for many years, partly because of a lack of understanding of the condition and partly because of the feelings of embarrassment, guilt and sometimes shame associated with what is often referred to as the ‘secret illness’. The sufferer can therefore wait an average of 10–15 years between symptoms developing and seeking professional help.
The thoughts and fears related to OCD can often seem very shocking. It must be stressed, however, that they are just thoughts – not fantasies or impulses which will be acted upon.
For someone with OCD, their logical mind always remains functioning, even if their OCD mind is becoming out of control, particularly exaggerated during periods of stress. Most people with OCD know that their thoughts and behaviour are irrational and senseless, but feel completely incapable of stopping them, often fearing that not completing a particular behaviour will cause harm to a loved one or to themselves. It's therefore important for the therapist to engage the logical rational brain of the sufferer in assessing the risk of the bad thing actually happening and getting them to understand gradually that the risk is so slight or non-existent that it's not worth giving power to. This can be easier said than done, particularly during the early stages of treatment, as no matter how small the risk, the person with OCD will feel responsible for preventing that bad event from happening, and will experience such high anxiety if they do not give in to the compulsion to act. OCD, in my experience, develops to enable both a feeling of being safe and in control and to facilitate avoidance.
OCD - My Approach
I help clients to identify the causes of their OCD and work to desensitize them to life events which have made them feel 'unsafe', guilty or untrusting of themselves and/or others. I often use EMDR which effectively enables disassociation from, and de-sensitization to, past traumatic events for those suffering from PTSD - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT or tapping), and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) are also employed. With CBT I focus on changing thoughts and teaching you the link between the thoughts, your feelings and subsequent behaviours. Trust can be a major issue for those who suffer with OCD, so the building of a trusting relationship and rapport with myself is key. I use relaxation techniques including deep breathing, and Clinical Hypnotherapy to gradually help you build this trust and your own self esteem and create distance between yourself and your OCD which we often name as something separate from yourself. I often use NLP techniques to help you access a state of calmness and gain control over your panic attacks. You are taught how to manage your illness so that you can stay in control of yourself rather than giving your thoughts and compulsions the power over your feelings and behaviour. Inner child work to build self-compassion and self-acceptance are key to my work with OCD sufferers as often these clients are often rejecting of themselves and have repressed their feelings.
An eating disorder is an illness that leads people to overeat, to starve themselves, or adopt other unhealthy behaviours around food and body weight. These disorders - binge eating, anorexia nervosa, and bulimia - are not just bad habits. They interfere with everyday life and without proper treatment they can cause serious health problems and tragically even death. Past negative feelings and beliefs about food, the body, or excessive exercise, will generally be processed using Regression to Cause and EMDR.
I specialise in working with clients who have eating disorders or an unhealthy relationship with their bodies and / or eating. I help them using a range of different therapies including CBT, Clinical Hypnotherapy, and Psychotherapies. My role will then complement the role of the client's GP in helping them on their road to recovery as quickly as possible. The most important thing for clients to do is to seek help from professionals who will support them back to a healthy relationship with food.