Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
It’s really normal for us to have intrusive thoughts however most of the time we recognise them as such and don’t really pay much attention to them. This is very different to obsessive-compulsive disorder which is characterised by frequent, intrusive and unwelcome obsessional thoughts often followed by repetitive compulsions, impulses or urges. If we are experiencing OCD, we are usually aware that our obsessive thinking is not reasonable or rational, and we might try to ignore it or stop it. However, this can serve only to increase the distress and anxiety associated with the thoughts, and ultimately, we are driven to carry out compulsive acts in an effort to relieve the anxious feelings. Given that “obsessive” and “compulsive” are words that we use in our everyday language, it’s important to define them in the context of OCD. We might talk about being “obsessed with” someone, such as a celebrity or a love-interest, or something, such as a football team, sex or a new car. Likewise, we might class someone as a “compulsive liar” or a “compulsive spender”. Whilst these ways of speaking are not inaccurate, they can trivialise OCD and may lead to such comments as “he’s a bit OCD”, which don’t reflect what it is like to live with OCD and how debilitating it can be. In reality, it’s possible for obsessive thoughts and compulsions to become so powerful that they dominate our existence which can have a devastating impact on all aspects of our life - our education, work and career, social life and personal relationships.
CBT can help us gradually face our OCD related fears and test out in a gentle and collaborative way what happens if we go against the “OCD bully”. Bit by bit we become less directed by OCD and more able to live without having to succumb to our OCD fears. Sometimes past experiences can be part of what keeps our OCD going, and EMDR can help us process and move through those past experiences in a way that reduces the intensity of our intrusive thoughts. Yoga Therapy can help by more directly reducing the physical feelings of anxiety, the mindfulness element of yoga therapy allows us to step back and see our intrusive thoughts as thoughts and not facts and helps us to create distance between ourselves and our distressing thoughts. If you need help managing OCD related difficulties get in touch and let’s talk about how therapy can help you.
You can read more about OCD here.