What is obsessive compulsive disorder? (OCD)

It is quite normal to have the occasional concern regarding whether you’ve turned the oven off before you went out, however when those thoughts become repetitive and cause unhealthy patterns of behaviour, you may have a reason to be concerned.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder which causes the sufferer to have repetitive thoughts or ideas (obsessions) that make them feel driven to do something repetitively (compulsions). These repetitive actions, such as excessive cleaning, turning switches on and off and constantly checking on things, can have a detrimental effect on a person’s social interactions and daily life.

It’s important to make the distinction between keeping to a routine, having focussed thoughts and OCD.  Routine and focus can actually be beneficial to many people, giving them some much needed structure.  The difference being, is that it doesn’t interfere with their daily lives.  People with OCD, have persistent thoughts, unwanted routines and their behaviours are rigid.  If they aren’t able to act on them, a person with OCD will experience a lot of stress and anxiety.

What are the symptoms of OCD?

The signs and symptoms that are generally associated with people suffering from OCD include:

  • Safety: Having irrational fears about themselves or others being hurt or in danger. This can result in compulsive behaviours such as repeatedly checking whether the stove has been turned off or that windows and doors are locked
  • Hoarding: Not being able to throw away old magazines or junk mail
  • Counting: The continuous need to count various objects or items, such as counting the cars driving past or the number of steps as they walk
  • Cleanliness: The extreme cleaning of their home or hands, from the fear of germs
  • Sexual issues: Having an irrational sense of disgust regarding sexual activity
  • Religious issues: The constant need to pray numerous times a day to the point where they can’t see to their other daily activities and responsibilities

Co-morbid conditions such as eating disorders, depression and drug/alcohol issues are commonly associated with sufferers of OCD. Many people with OCD may know or suspect their obsessions are not real; there are others that believe they are legitimate (known as poor insight). Regardless of their level of understanding surrounding the legitimacy, people with OCD have a lot of difficultly stopping the obsessions or compulsive behaviours.

How common is OCD?

Research indicates that there is no discrepancy between genders with both males and females are equally affected with OCD.  Approximately three per cent of Australians will experience some form of OCD during their lifetime.

OCD can develop at any period of your life, with some children exhibiting signs as early as six years old but not usually displaying the full spectrum of symptoms until they reach adolescence.

What causes OCD?

OCD is believed to occur from the combination of genetic and environmental aspects. Indicators specific to OCD include:

  • Genetics: It is believed that OCD may have a genetic component, but the exact genes are yet to be determined.
  • Environmental:  It has been suggested from industry experts that OCD may develop as a result of learned behaviour. This has come about either by direct conditioning (e.g. developing a washing compulsion after contracting a disease from contact with an infected person or animal) or learning by watching the behaviour of others, such as parents.
  • Biological factors: OCD has been linked to the irregular levels of serotonin, which is the chemical responsible for transmitting messages between brain cells. The research into the chemical, structural and functional changes or abnormalities in the brain are currently ongoing.

There are a number of factors that may increase the likelihood of developing obsessive-compulsive disorder. These include:

  • Family history: There is an increased risk of developing OCD if you have parents or other family members with the disorder
  • Stressful life events: Your risk may increase if you have experienced trauma or other stressful events.
  • Other mental health disorders:  Disorders such as anxiety or tic disorders may be related to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

There are numerous issues that may result from untreated OCD which include, health issues, strained relationships, an inability to participate within society via the work place or education settings, as well as suicidal thought and behaviours.

Help for OCD

At Brain Training Australia™ we off Neurofeedback Brain Training for clients opting for a safe, natural and drug-free approach for clients struggling with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) to retrain brain activity and to optimise brain functionality.

Let us help you. Here is how to get started.

Your first step is to get in contact with us.

All new clients receive a free, complementary and no obligation 15-minute phone consult with a dedicated member of our team. If you’re on the fence, wondering if Neurofeedback Brain Training is right for you, then this is a really good place to start.

If you are ready to get started then you can just book in your First Appointment and get started straight away.

The team at Brain Training Australia™ recognise the unique qualities of all our clients and will work closely with you to personalise your Brain Training Program so that you can achieve your goals of optimal mental processes.

We look forward to helping you live a much richer, happier and healthier life.