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Addcounsel’s Approach to OCD Treatment

“Because the thoughts and behaviours of those with OCD are so unusual or socially unacceptable, people with OCD often feel deeply embarrassed and ashamed.”

— Laura L. Smith

What is obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a long-lasting anxiety-related mental health disorder. A person with OCD will experience uncontrollable and persistent obsessions (thoughts and ideas) and engage in rigid compulsions (repetitive behaviours). People with obsessive-compulsive disorder will experience significant distress and anxiety, which if not treated, will interfere with, and significantly impair quality of life. The anxiety-related disorder affects individuals of all ages and all walks of life. In recent years, famous ultra-high-net-worth individuals such as Leonardo De Caprio, Cameran Diaz and David Beckham have talked publicly about living with and managing OCD.

Those with other compulsive disorders such as Trichotillomania, body dysmorphia disorder, and Tourette’s syndrome, may demonstrate similar obsessive compulsive behaviours to someone suffering with OCD. In some cases, multiple compulsive disorders will overlap with OCD.  Royal College of Psychiatrists states: “About 1 in every 50 people suffer from OCD at some point in their lives, men and women equally. That adds up to over 1 million people in the UK.” The article continues: “Severe OCD can make it impossible to work regularly, to take part in family life—or even to get on with your family.” Similarly, American Psychiatric Association states: “Many people without OCD have distressing thoughts or repetitive behaviours. However, these do not typically disrupt daily life. For people with OCD, thoughts are persistent and intrusive, and behaviours are rigid. Not performing the behaviours commonly causes great distress, often attached to a specific fear of dire consequences (to self or loved ones) if the behaviours are not completed.”

Medical research suggests that OCD is likely a combination of genetics and attempting to cope in a highly stressful environment. Some experts in the field of psychiatry believe that OCD in children is distinct from cases in adults and will manifest differently. In a detailed paper by Daniel A. Geller, Saffron Homayoun and Gabrielle Johnson, published by National Library of Medicine titled Developmental Considerations in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: Comparing Pediatric and Adult-Onset Cases, the authors write: “For decades, clinical research has posited a developmental subtype of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) that affects youth, and which may be distinct in important ways from the adult-onset form. Evidence for such a developmental subtype draws from multiple lines of observation and investigation at the clinical, translational and basic science levels. Despite this, the latest incarnation of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, the DSM5 does not specify a developmental subtype, but rather includes two different “specifiers” that apply particularly to children and adolescents.” At Addcounsel, our team of mental health clinicians have seen firsthand how OCD negatively impacts the lives of our clients. OCD has two components which begins with obsessive thoughts, followed by distressing compulsions. Let’s explore more on this anxiety-related disorder.

What are obsessive thoughts in relation to OCD?

They are intrusive images, ideas, and impulses that are repetitive, dogged, and rigid. Individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder often recognise that their obsessions are illogical and counterproductive, but are overwhelmed by them. Minutes, often hours, are wasted or lost daily because of obsessive impulses wasting precious moments which could otherwise have been spent with family, friends, or enjoying leisure pursuits. When an individual’s daily life is seriously impacted in this way, chances are it’s beyond a behavioural trait, and more like an obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Deep feelings of self-disgust, fear and shame accompany these obsessions, especially when a person is at a social gathering or in the workplace. Many individuals report experiencing shame before or after an episode of obsessive thinking, especially if they’ve had socially inappropriate images, thoughts, and urges to compulsively act out. The shame and stigma can be so powerful that it stops people from talking about what’s going on in their minds, for fear of ridicule and rejection. Invasive thoughts which are violent in nature, sexual or otherwise, are incredibly difficult to discuss, even with a compassionate mental health clinician. Unfortunately, some individuals have lived with very dark thoughts and obsessions for decades, well into their senior years, before feeling safe enough to exposethem. At Addcounsel, we know how challenging it is to live with OCD, let alone heal the shame around it.

What do individuals with OCD obsess about?

Contrary to popular belief, individuals with OCD aren’t all obsessed with compulsively cleaning toilet seats or turning light switches on and off. Many have been diagnosed because of aggressive and violent repetitive thoughts, some of which are sexually charged. Like most mental health issues, disorders and illnesses, OCD impacts individuals in many ways. Here are some examples of how crippling fear and anxiety drive obsessive patterns of thought:

  • Invasive sexually charged images, often deemed inappropriate and offensive by others, and/or images related to being sexually assaulted by someone
  • Fear of being stabbed, or stabbing a loved one, or physically harming someone. These intrusive and unwelcome images can be highly distressing
  • Disgust of bodily fluids (urine, faeces, saliva, semen, blood, etc.)
  • Fear of dirt, dust, mud etc
  • Fear of stains (real or perceived)
  • A compulsion to align objects in exactly the same order/place
  • An overwhelming fear of change of any sort or personal objects being moved
  • Obsessively avoiding germs and going to extreme lengths not to catch a disease
  • Fear of household chemicals like bleach, dettol wipes etc
  • Fear of being held responsible for harming others because of a genuine mistake
  • Constant awareness of blinking and breathing
  • Obsessive thoughts suggesting a partner/spouse is having an affair with no evidence or suspicious behaviour to suggest so
  • Fear of being exposed to people with perceived unattractive personality traits
  • Religious obsessive thoughts such as offending a religious deity and/or causing offence
  • An obsession with the sexuality of oneself and others
  • Obsessing about getting things perfect—even numbers and exactness (flawlessness)
  • An obsession around forgetting to do something important such as locking the front door, turning of the cooker, or draining a car battery
  • An obsession with death and one’s mortality and that of others

What are compulsions in relation to OCD?

Many individuals have daily rituals such as a morning workout, a religious or spiritual devotion, and may dedicate several hours to learning a new skill or playing a musical instrument. Rituals can be great for a person’s mental health, especially if structure is needed to produce a better overall sense of order. A compulsion, however, is destructive and rather than expanding one’s life, instead causes deep distress. For example, a person may like to have their books placed neatly in their home library and family photos arranged in a particular way which can bring them a sense of satisfaction. Conversely, if an individual feels the need to compulsively clean/check their bookshelf every day even if they really don’t want to, this could be an indicator that it’s a compulsion. A compulsion leads to unwanted ‘acting out’ and feeling that there’s no choice but to do so.

Psychiatry UK writes: “Compulsive behaviours, which are an attempt to fight the unwanted thoughts and provide relief from their anxiety. However, usually, this relief is only temporary. On occasion, we all experience compulsions, counting the number of chocolate buttons in a packet as you eat them, or avoiding cracks in the pavement while walking. But, in OCD, rather than being enjoyable, a compulsion is a behaviour the sufferer feels compelled to repeatedly perform, either to prevent imagined harm happening to themselves or their loved ones, or until they feel better.” Here are some common compulsions experienced by those with OCD:

  • Compulsively checking on things. For example, an individual may continuously check up to see if they’ve hurt someone, or to make sure “nothing bad has happened”, or repeatedly checking body parts for signs of disease
  • Excessive grooming such as showering, brushing teeth and bathing
  • Excessively washing hands (if this isn’t a policy in the workplace such as a medical doctor or nurse working in a hospital or in a private practice)
  • Cleaning household items repeatedly, for example a doorknob. The aforementioned Cameron Diaz recognised this compulsive in her OCD behaviour, before making peace with her anxiety-related disorder
  • Repeatedly performingthe exact activity three or five or six times because of a belief it’s safe and wise to do so. This could be placing a book in a shelf, removing it, and putting it back
  • Cancelling behaviours or deleting work and then redoing it days, weeks, or months later (this could be posting an important post on social media)
  • Counting while performing a task
  • Compulsively analysing past behaviour to avoid making mistakes in the future and/or to avoid harming others. This goes way beyond reflecting on the past
  • Avoiding situations, events and locations which might activate obsessive compulsive behaviour (this is very common when someone with OCD is invited to a social gathering)
  • Compulsively arranging a shelf or inside a cupboard until it looks perfect and feels flawless (this, of course, can go on for days because perfection is a myth)

Start your OCD treatment

Our team of experts have a wealth of knowledge and understanding when it comes to treating a wide range of mental health issues. We recognise the value of discretion and privacy in the treatment of mental illness and disorders such as OCD, especially in ultra-high-net-worth individuals for whom these problems can carry unnecessary stigma. Treatment takes place in an intimate, one-to-one setting – no groups, no other patients. Your comfort, safety and privacy are our priority.

At Addcounsel, we draw on the world’s most extensive menu of mental health treatment options to build a programme of individually tailored support that will help you overcome these issues. Our team boasts world-leading experts and consultants in a variety of fields, all carefully vetted and committed to providing discreet, high-quality care.

You don’t have to go through this alone. Our dedicated team will help and guide you through the entire process from start to finish, in the comfort and anonymity of our luxury, private alcohol addiction treatment accommodation in Mayfair, Chelsea, Knightsbridge or Notting Hill, London.

Contact us today to start your OCD recovery journey.

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