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Counselling for OCD

Do you have obsessive thoughts or compulsions that interfere with your life? We can help.

Everyone has rituals or habits that make them feel more comfortable. However, when you cannot stop obsessive thoughts or feel compelled to engage in rituals, even if it interferes with your life, it may be time to seek help. 

 

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a chronic mental health condition characterized by obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviour. People with OCD may recognize that their thoughts or actions aren’t helpful or make no sense but feel unable to control them. 

 

You don’t have to feel alone or embarrassed about OCD. It is a common condition, and there are effective treatments available. Book a consultation with one of our mental health specialists today who can help you better manage your symptoms and regain control over your life.

 

What Does OCD Feel Like?

OCD usually includes obsessions and compulsions. But, it is possible to have OCD with only obsessions or only compulsions. The symptoms of OCD significantly interfere with daily functioning or occupy at least one hour of every day:

 

Obsessive Thoughts

The thoughts experienced in people with OCD are distressing and feel like they are on repeat. There are many different types of obsessive thoughts that people have, such as:

  • Fear of contamination or dirt

  • Doubting, second-guessing, and difficulty tolerating uncertainty

  • Order and symmetry

  • Aggressive, violent, or upsetting thoughts 

  • Unwanted or uncomfortable thoughts (i.e. sexual, religious, hurting someone, etc.)

 

Sometimes the intrusive thoughts caused by OCD can be very upsetting. They often feel stuck in your mind and may be violent or disturbing in nature. Having intrusive or upsetting thoughts does not make you a bad person and there’s no need to feel ashamed.

Compulsive Behaviour

Compulsive behaviours are actions you may feel driven to take in order to reduce anxiety related to obsessions or prevent something bad from happening. People with OCD often create unique rules or rituals to help them deal with obsessive thoughts. 

 

Some types of compulsions include:

  • Washing and cleaning objects or self

  • Checking (i.e., doors, plugs, stoves)

  • Counting

  • Orderliness and symmetry

  • Following a strict routine

  • Demanding reassurance

 

Commonly experienced compulsions may be daily things like checking doors, excessively washing hands, repeating a certain phrase, or rearranging food so that all labels face outward. 

 

Many people begin exhibiting signs of OCD in their teen years, but it can start in childhood. The severity of symptoms can vary significantly throughout life, and the content of obsessions may even change over time. Stress often triggers worsening of symptoms.

Will OCD Go Away if I Don’t Seek Help?

OCD does not go away on its own without some form of treatment. For many people, it is a lifelong condition. Fortunately, treatment can make the symptoms of OCD manageable and improve your quality of life. Finding effective support and a treatment plan is always recommended for anyone living with OCD.

How Do I Know if I Need Help?

Some people brush off symptoms of OCD as personality traits, such as perfectionism. The difference with OCD is that there is an element of significant interference in your life. The obsessive thoughts and compulsions that accompany OCD can make it hard to do things like socializing, attending meetings, or even getting ready in the morning. You may avoid engaging in many activities because of the distress they may cause.  If your obsessive thoughts or compulsions interfere with your daily functioning and cause you stress, it may be time to seek help.

What Causes OCD?

There is no exact known cause of OCD. It can develop due to a combination of factors such as:

  • Family history: You are at a higher risk of developing OCD if you have a family member with OCD. 

  • Exposure to Trauma: Traumatic or stressful life events may increase your risk of OCD. Sometimes OCD develops as a coping mechanism to deal with childhood trauma, which may manifest as acting out on rituals believed to prevent unwanted events. 

 

  • Biochemical Factors: Dysfunction in a brain circuit associated with thoughts, impulses, and actions may be involved in OCD symptoms. People with OCD seem to have abnormalities in this circuit where it doesn’t “turn off” once an action is completed, leading to repetition, rumination, and doubt. It is believed that there is also dysfunction in the serotonin system, contributing to the anxiety and stress involved with OCD.  

 

  • Medical Conditions: PANDAS (Paediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal infections) is a type of OCD occurring in childhood following infection with strep throat. PANDAS generally happens very suddenly in children and can sometimes last into adulthood. 

 

  • Environmental Factors: Characteristics of your environment such as stress, instability, and a poor support system may increase your risk of OCD or make symptoms worse. Some types of OCD behaviours can be learned from observation. 

 

  • Mental Health: People living with mental health problems like anxiety disorders, depression, Tourettes, ADHD, or eating disorders have an increased risk of developing OCD. 

 

It is important to remember that developing OCD can happen gradually. It is a complex condition that impacts every aspect of daily functioning. Clinical intervention is the best way to learn how to manage OCD so that it does not become debilitating. 

 

How is OCD Treated?

OCD can be treated with counselling, medications, or both. There are also lifestyle changes that can be made to support your recovery.

Counselling for OCD in Vaughan, Woodbridge & Greater Toronto Area

We are the largest counselling service provider in the Vaughan and Woodbridge area with over 15 years of experience. Our team of therapists specializes in helping clients identify the roots of their struggles and learn effective tools for overcoming them. We offer cutting edge counselling and coaching to individuals, families, and couples.