Toronto OCD Psychotherapist
People with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) have persistent, upsetting thoughts (obsessions) and use rituals (compulsions) to control the anxiety these thoughts produce. Rituals can end up controlling them. If you have OCD, you may be plagued by persistent, unwelcome thoughts. Sufferers can go undiagnosed for many years typically because of intense feelings of embarrassment, guilt, and shame. OCD is a big secret that people try and hide from others because of shame. People often wait years until the symptoms become unbearable before they seek treatment.
The earlier treatment is begun, the less likely you are to develop complications from the illness. Appropriate treatment is critical to long term recovery. OCD is indeed a chronic, but also a very treatable medical condition. Most people can learn to stop performing their compulsive rituals and to decrease the intensity of their obsessional thoughts through psychotherapy.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Symptoms
If people are obsessed with germs or dirt, they may develop a compulsion to wash their hands over and over again. If they develop an obsession with intruders, they may lock and relock their doors many times before going to bed. Performing such rituals is not pleasurable. At best, it produces temporary relief from the anxiety created by obsessive thoughts. Other common rituals are a need to repeatedly check things, touch things (especially in a particular sequence), or count things. Some individuals fear making a mistake and keep checking what they have done repeatedly. People with OCD may also be preoccupied with order and symmetry, have difficulty throwing things out (so they accumulate), or hoard unneeded items.
OCD strikes men and women in roughly equal numbers and usually appears in childhood, adolescence, or early adulthood. One-third of adults with OCD develop symptoms as children, and research indicates that OCD might run in families. The course of the disease is quite varied. Symptoms may come and go, ease over time, or get worse. If OCD becomes severe, it can keep a person from working or carrying out normal responsibilities at home. People with OCD may try to help themselves by avoiding situations that trigger their obsessions, or they may use alcohol or drugs to calm themselves.
Toronto OCD Psychotherapy
Depression or other anxiety disorders may accompany OCD, and some people with OCD may also have eating disorders. If OCD grows severe enough, it can keep someone from going to school, holding down a job or from carrying out normal responsibilities at home. Individuals suffering with OCD often realize that their obsessional thoughts are irrational, but feel that the only way to relieve the anxiety caused by their thoughts is to perform compulsive behaviours. They are trying to prevent perceived harm from happening to themselves or, more often than not, to a loved one.
One must realize that any relief that the compulsive behaviours provide is only temporary. Unfortunately, this behaviour typically reinforces the original obsession, creating a gradual worsening of OCD symptoms. People with OCD often feel an overinflated sense of responsibility to prevent harm and feel very strongly about the perceived threat. One continually tries to prevent bad things from happening. Sadly, OCD can have a disturbing impact on a person’s life, affecting education, work, career enhancement, social activities, and personal relationships. Left untreated OCD will mushroom and feed upon itself and can have the power to consume one’s life.