Obsessive compulsive disorder

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ocd treatment service imageAlmost three per cent of all Australians suffer from a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder  (OCD) during their lifetime. It is found in children, adolescents and adults.

The obsessions are recurrent and persistent thoughts, and are often exaggerated concerns or worries. The compulsions are behaviours such as rituals, patterns or rules that the sufferer is unable to resist performing. Some suffer from both obsessions and compulsions, while others may experience just one. Having an obsessive compulsive disorder is time-consuming, distressing and often exhausting.

These span from mild to severe. A person suffering from a mild form of the disorder may feel the need to avoid stepping on cracks in the sidewalk, while a person suffering extreme OCD may not be able to leave their house for all the rituals required. In its most severe form, It can entirely take over a person’s life. It is often shameful to the person and hidden when possible.

Some of the most common issues of OCD sufferers include:

  • fear of germs
  • compulsive cleaning
  • exaggerated worrying about health
  • hoarding
  • hand washing
  • safety checking
  • repeatedly counting items or objects

Obsessive compulsive disorder is an anxiety condition and Early OCD treatment can reduce its symptoms.

It is a type of anxiety disorder where children and adolescents become acutely focussed on negative thinking, such as whether something could be dangerous, wrong, harmful or dirty.

Obsessions and worry overtake a child’s focus and they may use rituals or compulsions as a way of making the thoughts go away. The child or adolescent has no control over these thoughts – they can’t try to not think in this way. Just like any physical disorder, like being asthmatic or diabetic – this is something happening to them that they can’t control.

It  is not something that the child or parents have caused. Science is yet to tie down the exact cause of Obsessive Compulsive behaviours but research is pointing to inaccurate interpretations in the brain of levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin. This creates false alarm danger signals which the mind then can’t turn-off. It seems likely that there is a genetic component to OCD, but sometimes the stress of a major event or illness may trigger the condition.

Most children and adolescents with this disorder realise that repeating rituals over and over again won’t fix their problem, but the anxiety they feel overpowers their logical brain. They need the behaviour to neutralise the uncomfortable feeling.

OCD treatment include behavioural therapy and sometimes medical treatment. Talking with a psychologist can get you started on the road to recovery.

 

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