Obessions and compulsions

Most of us have some sort of mild obsession or compulsion – things like worrying if the door is locked or avoiding cracks in the pavement – and these don’t interfere with our lives. It’s when these types of activities or worries start to take up a large part of our day and cause us severe distress that they become a bigger problem. This is called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Do I have OCD?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is made up of obsessions and compulsions. You may have either or both, but unwanted, constant worry or anxiety about them is a symptom of OCD.

Obsessions are unwelcome thoughts, urges or doubts that appear repeatedly in your mind. Examples of common obsessions can include:

  • Thinking you’ve left the door unlocked
  • Thinking that you are contaminated with diseases and germs
  • Sudden urges to hit people
  • Intrusive thoughts about a relationship

Compulsions are repetitive actions based on worrying thoughts like the ones listed above. Common examples include:

  • Having everything ordered at all times
  • Constantly checking things such as the oven, your windows, the front door
  • Hoarding items
  • Excessive reassurance seeking

What causes my OCD?

No one really has a definitive answer about what causes OCD, but there are a number of different theories about why the condition develops.

One theory is that OCD is caused by personal experience. If you have experienced something particularly traumatic, such as a burglary, either as a child or an adult, you might have developed obsessions and compulsions as a result. These could have developed either to prevent the incident happening again (such as repeatedly checking the door is locked) or as a way to cope with anxiety.

Another theory is that OCD develops because of dysfunctional beliefs. OCD might develop if you believe you have more responsibility or are more likely to act in certain situations than other people.

A final theory is that OCD is caused by biological factors. While there is disagreement over the role the brain chemical serotonin plays in OCD, some experts believe that the lack of this chemical may cause OCD to occur.

How can therapy treat my OCD?

Therapy For You can offer you a range of interventions to help manage this type of problem beginning with our Psychoeducational therapy course which can help you understand more about the condition in general, identify the intrusive thoughts and actions that have become part of your life and develop ways to manage and overcome these negative patterns of behaviour.


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