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Do you suspect that you or someone in your life has OCD?

Jenny Tran

What is OCD?

OCD stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. There are two main parts to OCD – obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are repetitive, scary, unwanted thoughts, images, or urges. These obsessions are stressful. Common obsessions include thinking you could get sick, seeing images of someone being hurt, or feeling something is ‘not quite right’. Compulsions are things that people do to get rid of their obsessions. Examples include hand washing, repeating phrases in your mind, and asking for reassurance. They don’t always quite make sense, but when you are feeling very stressed, it can feel like the right thing to do. Compulsions are helpful in the moment. This is because the stressful obsessions go away for some time …. and they come back later. This means that compulsions are a ‘short term’ way of coping. If we don’t have other ways of dealing with our obsessions, we end up finding ourselves in an OCD cycle:

We can think of obsessions as a puppy.

Imagine your puppy comes to the dinner table one evening, and you are tempted to feed it. So…. that’s what you do. The next evening, it does the same thing, and you decide to feed it again. Over time, your puppy learns you will give him/her food during dinner time. So, it keeps coming back. In this situation, feeding your puppy can be likened to compulsions in the OCD cycle. The more we feed obsessions with compulsions, the stronger the obsessions get. Similarly, the more you feed your puppy during dinner time, the more insistent it becomes on getting your food. Maybe it will start to whinge, bark and growl when you try to resist. The puppy that was cute now seems annoying, and maybe even scary.

So, what can you do about it?

Well, in the case of your imaginary puppy, you would probably stop feeding it, right? You would also have to try hard to ignore him/her too. Eventually, he/she will eventually learn that you won’t give them food any, and they will stop coming to the dinner table.

How about for OCD?

Similarly, to ensure that your obsessions get weaker over time, you will need to change the way you react to them. This means developing confidence and learning the tools to eventually stop your compulsions. In psychology, this type of therapy is called Exposure and Response Prevention. Our team of skilled clinicians can help with this, contact us today to discuss treatment for OCD.


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