Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder? The most common features of OCD are obsessional thoughts and compulsive behaviour. Obsessional thoughts are distressing, repetitive thoughts which you know are your own (unlike hallucinations) but cannot ignore; some people describe these as being like a ‘stuck record’. Compulsions are ritual actions or mental processes which you feel compelled to repeat in order to relieve anxiety and temporarily stop obsessional thoughts. For example, you may have an obsessional thought that your hands are dirty and repeatedly wash them over and over again. Obsessive thoughts and compulsive rituals can take up many hours of each day. In its most severe form, OCD can prevent you from completing even simple daily tasks, such as washing the dishes.

What are the symptoms of OCD? Not all obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours are symptoms of a mental health problem. Most of us have worries, doubts and superstitious beliefs. It is only when your thoughts and behaviour make no sense, cause distress or become excessive that you may want to look for help.

OCD symptoms can occur at any stage of your life. If you suffer from OCD you may also feel anxious and depressed, and may believe you are the only one with such irrational and obsessive thoughts. Unfortunately, such feelings may make you afraid to tell anyone or ask for help – which will only delay diagnosis and treatment. Having OCD should not be seen as a sign of weakness, nor should you feel you are lacking in will power because you are unable to stop these thoughts and behaviours.
Symptoms of OCD are also seen in other brain disorders such as Tourette’s syndrome.

Most common obsessions and compulsions.

  • Fear of contamination
  • Fear of causing harm to someone else
  • Fear of making a mistake
  • Fear of behaving unacceptably
  • Need for symmetry or exactness
  • Excessive doubt
  • Cleaning and washing
  • Checking Arranging and organising
  • Collecting and hoarding
  • Counting and repeating

What causes OCD? There are different theories about why OCD develops. It can be based on previous experiences – especially during childhood. And the type of personality may also be important – perfectionists seem to be more prone to this problem. OCD has been linked to increased activity in certain parts of the brain and some experts think low levels of a brain chemical called serotonin may be involved – although others disagree. Stress does not cause OCD, but a stressful event such as birth, death or divorce may act as a trigger.

How to treat OCD? There is no immediate cure for OCD but there are a number of treatments and things you can do to help you deal with it. The first step in getting treatment is to explain your symptoms to your GP who can then refer you for specialist help. The most effective treatments for OCD generally involve talking treatments such as counselling, psychotherapy and cognitive behaviour therapy and drug therapy.

How family and friends can help As family or a friend, you may feel frustrated and confused by the symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, but you can help a lot by accepting your partner’s, friend’s or relative’s feelings and understanding they find it difficult to cope. Generally, negative comments or criticism tend to make OCD worse, whereas a calm, supportive family can help improve the treatment’s outcome. When children or adolescents have OCD, it’s important for parents to work with teachers to be sure that they understand the problem.

Self-help Self-help groups can provide help, support and encouragement. Contact the organisations linked to below to try to find a local group. You can also help by becoming something of an expert on OCD. Since OCD may come and go at different times in your life, you and your family will benefit from learning all you can about the problem. This will help you get the best from your treatment and keep the problem under control.

Top Boarding Schools

You have questions... We have answers
  • Q: I read on the website that these schools offer family therapy, but how does that happen when the school is so far away?

    You will participate in the family therapy by phone, and when you come for your family visits, you will then do face to face family therapy.

  • Q: Why are most of these programs in Utah?

    The original Residential Treatment Center was opened in Utah, and they have been improving their system ever since. There is an entire state agency devoted to overseeing and regulating these programs. The other reason is that in Utah, the legal age is 18, so you can force your child to get treatment until they are 18. Legal age varies by state but there are an increasingly high number of states where the legal age is 17 even if you are still financially and physically responsible for them until they are 18.

    As long as your child is under the age of 18 and you have custody of your child, then your child does not have to go willingly. You can force them to go against their will for their benefit.

  • Q: If my child won't go willingly, how do I get them there?

    There are teen transport companies we contract with that are highly trained and they will come to your home and pick up your child. There job is to escort your child there safely! This takes away the worry and the fighting. There is an additional fee for this service.

  • Q: Does insurance cover the cost of treatment or boarding?

    Insurance plans vary so much that there is not a solid answer. You can find out what your coverage is by calling them directly and asking about your in-patient mental health benefits. In order for coverage, it has to be medically necessary, based on diagnosis and most insurance companies require a pre-authorization.