What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?
Obsessive-compulsive disorder, otherwise known as OCD, is a mental condition that affects individuals all across the UK. Some sufferers are able to manage from day-to-day because their compulsions do not heavily interfere with their routines. However, others are completely overwhelmed to the point of complete disability. The treatment options available to sufferers correlate to the severity of their particular disorder.
OCD is characterised by certain compulsive behaviours a person will engage in as a means of reducing anxiety, relieving fears, or simply dealing with stress. The compulsive behaviour can be as mild as routine hand washing or as severe as hoarding. The good news is that OCD can be treated with proven rehab therapies.
The majority of OCD sufferers in the UK avail themselves of services offered by the NHS or professional counsellors. These outpatient services rely heavily on counselling and medication to bring the patient relief. Outpatient programmes can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks; more serious cases requiring months of care are typically referred to a private clinic.
In the private clinic setting, rehab therapies are accessed via a residential stay. This residential model allows the patient to be completely separated from circumstances that regularly trigger compulsive behaviour. It also allows the patient to focus completely on getting well rather than having to deal with the distractions of daily life.
The length of time for residential OCD rehab depends on the severity of the condition. The shortest programmes can be completed in two weeks, while the longest ones can go on for months. Rest assured that your treatment would only be as long as necessary to help you overcome. Please also know that all of the clinics we work with are properly licensed and medically supervised.
Therapists endeavouring to help OCD patients use a number of different psychotherapeutic treatments. These treatments are focused on dealing with the negative thoughts and emotions patients suffer from. That means challenging their fears and helping them to devise strategies for overcoming those fears. A specialised form of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), known as exposure and response prevention (ERP) is one of the most successful psychotherapeutic treatments used today.
The goal of any CBT programme is to help retrain the way the patient thinks in order to avoid negative behaviour. To that end, ERP starts by identifying certain situations that cause anxiety in the mind of the OCD patient. Once those situations are identified, the patient is exposed to them in a controlled environment.
By exposing the patient to situations that cause anxiety, the therapist is able to then coach him or her through overcoming their anxiety without engaging in compulsive behaviour. Exposure to the given situation is controlled by the therapist in order to prevent the patient from being overwhelmed. As the patient succeeds, the intensity of the exposure increases even as the level of anxiety decreases. The idea is for the patient to learn to work through his or her anxiety without acting compulsively.
Ideally, the patient is exposed to a given anxious situation two or three times per day. Patients may be asked to purposely expose themselves to anxious situations between therapeutic treatments, as a way of practicing the strategies learned during therapy.
In cases where CBT and ERP are not enough to help the patient completely overcome, therapists have a number of medications at their disposal. The purpose for using the medications is to help balance certain brain receptors that might prevent patients from responding to psychotherapeutic treatment as well as they should.
The following are two of the more common types of medications used for OCD rehab:
- SSRIs – Also known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, SSRIs are a very specific type of antidepressant medication capable of increasing serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is a chemical that carries information between brain cells. Increasing serotonin levels can help OCD patients more easily separate and examine their own thoughts.
- Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs) – Another form of medication used to treat OCD is known as the tricyclic antidepressant. It also affects the way information is carried throughout the brain. However, TCAs are not used as often as SSRIs because the side effects are more common and more pronounced. A doctor will typically try SSRIs first, only turning to TCAs if necessary.
In an ideal situation, medication for OCD will only be a temporary thing. Doctors and therapists would prefer patients learn to overcome their anxieties and fears to the point that they can cease taking medication. However, the medications can be taken over the long term if necessary.
Getting the Help You Need
Do you need help dealing with behaviour that might be part of obsessive-compulsive disorder? If so, you may notice that you follow a certain pattern in some of your behaviours:
- obsession – you find yourself constantly worrying over some perceived negative circumstance that may, or may not, exist
- anxiety – you experience tremendous anxiety and fear as a result of your obsessive thoughts
- compulsion – you engage in some specific kind of behaviour intended to reduce anxiety and fear you’re feeling
- relief – your compulsive behaviour brings you temporary relief from your anxieties and fears.
This is a cyclical pattern of behaviour that repeats itself whenever you are exposed to circumstances or conditions that trigger your obsessive thoughts. For many people, this pattern can repeat itself multiple times in a single day. Those suffering from the most severe forms of OCD can see this pattern occur continuously for several days or weeks at a time.
If you even suspect you might be suffering from OCD, there is no need to continue living with it. Help is available just by calling us on the phone or contacting us through this website. One of our caring and compassionate counsellors is ready to speak with you. At UK-Rehab, we work with private clinics and other providers offering OCD rehab throughout the UK. We can get you started with a clinic and programme appropriate to your circumstances.
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