In general, people with OCD experience obsessions. These are thoughts, pictures or impulses which are usually unpleasant and come in to mind when we don’t want them. Many things can trigger these obsessions and they usually leave the person feeling very anxious, uncomfortable or frightened. The compulsion is the behaviour performed in order to “put right” the obsession.
Sometimes the behaviour is quite irrational, such as counting up in sevens for seven minutes. Sometimes the behaviour is more closely related to the obsessional thought such as washing hands many times to avoid contamination.
Most people with OCD know that their compulsions are irrational or “over the top”, but they feel unable to control their thoughts or change their behaviour.
OCD affects people in a number of ways, such as the following:
What we think:
- Guilty thoughts
How we feel:
What we do:
- Seeking reassurance
Most people who have OCD find that there is a pattern in their thoughts, feelings and actions. They feel anxiety or discomfort at having the obsession and relief once they have carried out the compulsive act. This becomes a vicious cycle which strengthens itself and becomes more likely to happen again.
CBT has helped me to start enjoying my life again by controlling my anxiety and worry so that it is now more manageable. I was checking my 11 month old son up to 28 times per night as I was scared ‘something bad’ might happen to him. CBT therapy has helped me to reduce these checking behaviours to 3 times per night. CBT takes hard work and determination but there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Never give up.