Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Treatment

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) features a repetitive pattern of unwanted thoughts and fears (obsessions) that lead you to do recurring behaviours (compulsions). These obsessions and compulsions interfere with daily life and cause substantial difficulty.

As a OCD Treatment facility we understand that people suffering from OCD attempt to ignore or stop their obsessions, this only increases their distress and anxiety. Sufferers feel propelled to perform compulsive acts to ease their distress however the thoughts and urges come back. This results in ritualistic behaviours which are the vicious cycles of OCD.

OCD often centres around certain themes — for example, Papillon treated a client who was obsessed with smiling and peoples’ teeth due to his son having an operation on his mouth that caused his smile to be distorted. To ease his fears, he obsessed over his son’s smile and everyone around him who smiled even in adverts. Despite his son’s smile being fixed the obsession with smiling faces still continued.

If you have OCD, treatment can be effective despite the shame and humiliation.

What are the signs & symptoms 
of OCD?

  • Excessive hand washing
  • Ritualized bathing or grooming
  • Checking behaviours
  • Mental rituals
  • Need to repeat activities,
  • Re-reading text
  • Hoarding behaviours
  • Superstitious behaviours
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At Papillon, OCD therapy starts primarily with a kind of CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) called “exposure with response prevention,” or exposure therapy. Medication is also prescribed in conjunction with CBT.  Medication in the form of anti-depressants is usually prescribed.  As the treatment plan may take time, it is also important for friends and family to be patient and supportive during their loved one’s treatment.

The result is a personalised and holistic approach to each of our residents’ mental recovery with the goal of sustainable reintegration at the end of their 3-month stay.

People with OCD can recover. Research shows that treatment for OCD is effective, and many people with OCD experience a lessening of symptoms and a substantially improved quality of life after receiving treatment.


What Are the General Signs & Symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

While the following behaviours can be indicative of OCD, they can also be part of normal routines or habits. The distinction lies in the degree to which these behaviours cause distress, take up a significant amount of time, and interfere with daily life:


Excessive Hand Washing

This is a common manifestation of OCD, often driven by an intense fear of contamination. Individuals may wash their hands repeatedly until they’re sore, chapped, or even bleeding.

The act is usually performed in a ritualised manner, aiming to lessen intense feelings of fear and anxiety.


Ritualised Bathing or Grooming

Similar to hand washing, individuals with OCD may engage in excessive or ritualised bathing, tooth-brushing, or other toilet routines. These rituals are often driven by obsessions related to cleanliness or fear of contamination.


Checking Behaviours

This involves repeatedly checking things, such as ensuring doors are locked or appliances are turned off. The compulsion to check arises from obsessions related to fear or doubt.


Mental Rituals

These are any repetitive mental acts performed to alleviate the anxiety caused by obsessive thoughts.

Examples include reassuring oneself that “everything is OK”, silently repeating special words, images, or numbers, making mental lists, and reviewing thoughts, feelings, conversations, or actions.


Need to Repeat Activities

This is a common symptom of OCD where individuals feel compelled to repeat certain behaviours, often in response to an obsession. For example, re-reading the same passage in a book again and again.


Re-Reading Text

This can be a manifestation of OCD where individuals feel compelled to re-read text multiple times, often driven by the fear of missing out on information or making a mistake.


Hoarding Behaviours

Hoarding is a symptom of OCD where individuals have difficulty discarding items, leading to excessive clutter. This behaviour is often driven by an intense emotional attachment to these items or a fear of losing something important.


Superstitious Behaviours

These can manifest in OCD as fixations or compulsions driven by superstitious beliefs. For example, an individual might avoid stepping on cracks or feel compelled to knock on wood a certain number of times.


Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Causes and Pre-Dispositions

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a complex mental health condition, and its causes are not fully understood. However, it’s generally believed that a combination of genetic, environmental, and neurological factors contribute to its development:


Genetic Factors

Research suggests that genetics play a significant role in the development of OCD. People with a parent or sibling with OCD are at a higher risk of developing the disorder. However, no specific gene has been identified as the cause of OCD. It’s believed that multiple genes may contribute to the overall genetic risk for OCD.


Environmental Factors

Certain environmental factors can trigger OCD in individuals who are genetically predisposed. These factors can include:

  • Stressful or traumatic life events can increase the risk of developing OCD.
  • Certain infections, such as streptococcal infections, have been associated with the onset of OCD.
  • The environment in which a person grows up, including family and other significant relationships, can influence the development of OCD.


Neurological Factors

Differences in brain structure and function have been observed in people with OCD. Problems in the way the brain processes emotions and controls impulses could contribute to the development of obsessions and compulsions.


Risk Factors

Several risk factors can increase the likelihood of developing OCD. These include:

  • OCD typically begins during late adolescence and early adulthood.
  • Having parents or other family members with the disorder can raise your risk of getting OCD.
  • Other mental health disorders or conditions such as depression or anxiety can increase the risk of developing OCD.
  • Substance or alcohol abuse can also increase the risk of OCD.


Although these factors can increase the risk of developing OCD, not everyone with these risk factors will develop the disorder. Similarly, OCD can develop in individuals without any of these risk factors.

The interaction between these factors is complex and the subject of ongoing research.


Myths About Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Be aware of these common myths about Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and the truths behind them:


Myth: Loving your things neat and tidy makes you “so OCD!” This myth arises from a misunderstanding of OCD as a disorder of cleanliness.

Fact: OCD involves intrusive, distressing thoughts and repetitive, ritualistic habits that attempt to resolve the anxiety of those thoughts. It’s only OCD if it causes you distress. A person with OCD might actually make a useless cleaner. While some sufferers may obsessively clean their house, others will have very different symptoms.


Myth: It would be really obvious if someone had OCD because they would always be avoiding stepping on pavement cracks and checking that they turned the stove off. This myth is based on the visible physical symptoms of some types of OCD.

Fact: Although some types of OCD are easily visible because of physical symptoms, many are not. Lots of people with OCD carry out purely mental compulsions such as internal counting, praying, and list-making, which are impossible to see as an outsider.


Myth: OCD isn’t particularly serious. This myth may arise from a lack of understanding about the severity and impact of OCD.

Fact: OCD can be debilitating and can severely impact a person’s quality of life. Sufferers of OCD may become housebound and cease to be able to live anything resembling a normal life. Tragically, some people with OCD will end up attempting or dying from suicide.


Myth: If you meet someone with OCD, the best thing to do is help them with their routines. This myth comes from a well-intentioned desire to help but helping someone with OCD with their routines can actually reinforce their compulsions.

Fact: The best way to support someone with OCD is to encourage them to seek professional help.


Myth: People with OCD can control it. This myth arises from a misunderstanding of the involuntary nature of OCD symptoms.

Fact: OCD symptoms are not voluntary. No one with OCD wants to think intrusive thoughts or perform repetitive behaviour. Distractions may work temporarily but in the long term, treatment and medications are the only things that can help.


Early Warning Signs of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Early warning signs of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) include:

  • Engaging in repetitive behaviours or repeating actions until they are “just right” or starting things over again.
  • Having rigid ideas that dictate your behaviour.
  • Spending too much time on time-consuming routine tasks.
  • Experiencing excessive worries or doubts.
  • Resisting change or having difficulty adapting to changes.
  • Refusing to touch certain things with bare hands or avoiding direct contact with objects.
  • Experiencing outbursts when unable to do things a certain way.

Remember that these signs do not definitively diagnose OCD, but if someone is experiencing these signs, it’s crucial to seek professional help.


Negative Symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is often associated with a range of negative symptoms, which refer to the absence or reduction of normal behaviours:

Individuals with OCD may avoid social interactions due to fear of their obsessions being triggered or being judged for their compulsive behaviours. This can lead to isolation and a lack of normal social behaviours.

The time-consuming nature of compulsions can lead to a significant reduction in productivity.  Individuals with OCD may struggle to complete tasks at work or school due to the interference of their symptoms.

To prevent triggering their obsessions, individuals with OCD may avoid certain situations or objects. For example, someone with a fear of germs may avoid public places.

The need for control and predictability in OCD can lead to a lack of spontaneity. Individuals with OCD may struggle with unplanned activities or changes in routine.

Due to the time and energy spent on obsessions and compulsions, individuals with OCD may neglect hobbies, interests, and activities they once enjoyed.

Lastly, the symptoms of OCD can strain relationships with family and friends. The individual’s obsessions and compulsions may be difficult for others to understand, leading to conflicts and misunderstandings.

Remember, these negative symptoms can vary widely among individuals with OCD, and not everyone will experience all of these symptoms. If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, it’s important to seek professional help.


How Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is Diagnosed

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is diagnosed by trained medical professionals such as psychiatrists, psychologists, or family doctors or nurses with special training.

The process of diagnosing OCD usually involves the following:

Psychological evaluation that includes discussing your thoughts, feelings, symptoms, and behaviour patterns to determine if you have obsessions or compulsive behaviours that interfere with your quality of life.

With your permission, this may include talking to your family or friends.

A physical examination may be done to rule out other issues that could cause the symptoms and check for any related complications.

It can be quite challenging to diagnose OCD because its symptoms can resemble those of anxiety disorders, depression, schizophrenia, or other mental health disorders. Moreover, it’s possible to have OCD and another mental health disorder simultaneously.

Once OCD is diagnosed, treatment typically involves a combination of psychotherapy (specifically cognitive behavioural therapy) and medication. The goal of treatment is to control symptoms so that they don’t rule your daily life.

Depending on the severity of the OCD, long-term, ongoing, or more-intensive treatment may be needed.

Not sure we can help you? Our elite team of psychiatrists, occupational therapists, nurses and facilitators are qualified to treat a range of mental illnesses. In fact, our programme has successfully helped people with:

Mental Health Recovery starts here.

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