What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

People who suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) have recurring uncontrollable thoughts, known as obsessions, and behaviours that are urged in relation to these thoughts, known as compulsions.  These individuals have rigid routines which interfere with daily life and when these obsessions are not acted on, the person will feel severely distressed. The cause of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is unknown but has been linked to biological (genetics, brain structure, altered brain chemicals etc) and environmental (upbringing, negative personal experiences etc) factors.

How do I know I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

People who have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) will experience obsessions, compulsions or both. Common obsessions include recurring uncontrollable thoughts related to:

  • Fear of germs or contamination
  • Unwanted forbidden or taboo thoughts involving sex, religion, and harm
  • Aggressive thoughts towards others or self
  • Having things symmetrical or in a perfect order

Compulsions, which are urged behaviours in response to obsessions which cannot be controlled and which cause severe distress when ignoring these thoughts and urges. These commonly include:

  • Excessive cleaning and/or handwashing
  • Ordering and arranging things in a particular, precise way
  • Repeatedly checking on things
  • Compulsive counting

People with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) can spend hours a day on obsessions and compulsions,  this may affect all aspects of life, such as work, school, and personal relationships. It is essential to see someone if you suspect that your behaviour may be out of the ordinary or that you may have uncontrollable urges such as the above-mentioned.

How can Dr Tsepiso Mhlane help?

Because obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is linked to anxiety, the use of serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs) may assist and could be advised by Dr Mhlane to treat these symptoms depending on the level of distress. Your psychiatrist will also be able to aid you in managing your disorder and reduce the burden these symptoms may have on your life and relationships. It has also been found that psychotherapy including cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), are effective treatments for both adults and children with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Whether therapy is done by herself or by a specialised psychologist, she aims to assist patients towards living the life they deserve without the burden of uncontrollable thoughts and compulsions.