Understanding OCD

Symptoms, Causes and How We Can Help

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a type of anxiety disorder. OCD is characterized by obsessions (compulsive thoughts) as well as physical compulsions or urges to do certain things. Particular obsessions are often accompanied by fear or anxiety. The World Health Organization lists OCD in the top ten most disabling illnesses, in terms of productivity loss and impact on quality of life. It is found to be a disorder more common in women than men, however, it can an equal impact in both women and men.

OCD may present itself in different ways but the most common feature is an obsession to perform certain actions or rituals. The OCD patient carries out these acts (compulsions) in response to obsessive thoughts. For others, these acts seem unnecessary, but for the affected person these actions are vital and must be performed in a certain order to avoid alleged adverse effects. This may be a compulsion to check whether a door is locked, for example.

Most OCD patients are well aware that their behaviour is not rational, however, compulsions will often continue in an affected individual to prevent certain anxieties or tensions (although, it should be noted this is not common in children.) Performing the compulsion is done with the aim to ignore, neutralize or stop the obsessive thought. This can have a serious negative impact, causing marked stress on relationships and the sufferer’s ability to manage daily activities, work or study.


Key Indicators of OCD

Recurrent and persistent thoughts, impulses, or images that are experienced as forced or irrational and cause anxiety or stress


The thoughts, impulses, or images are more than an exaggerated concern.


The person tries to ignore the thoughts, impulses, or images, or to suppress or neutralize with some other thought or action.


The person is aware that the obsessive thoughts and impulses are a product of his or her own mind (not imposed by thought insertion).


Criteria for compulsions

Repeated behaviours (e.g. hand washing, ordering, checking) or mental acts (e.g. praying, counting, repeating words) performed by the person in response to an obsession or performed according to certain rules.


The behaviour or mental acts are aimed at preventing or reducing stress, or out of fear a negative event will occur if they do not follow through with the compulsion. These behaviours or mental acts, however, are not related to real life circumstances which should be reduced or prevented, or are clearly excessive.



Are you looking for help in assessing or managing OCD for you or a loved one?

Our clinics offer comprehensive assessments and personalized medication-free programs


A personalised approach to treating OCD


The underlying causes of OCD are not necessarily the same in two people. Because of this, it is important that the therapy program is tailored to take into account a range of factors that may be contributing to the negative symptoms and feelings of the patient.  Follow a comprehensive assessment of symptoms, we can also take a closer look at brain activity and other behaviours by means of a  Quantitative EEG (QEEG) examination with a psychometric assessment. This allows our trained Psychology and Psychiatry staff to take into account biological, psychological and personal factors.

Poor sleep and wake behaviours may also explain or contribute to symptoms of Depression. For this reason, we conduct Actigraphy Sleep Assessments as part of a comprehensive assessment of symptoms.


Find out more about our assessment approach


Want to learn more about our medication-free mental health programs?

Please write to us below, briefly telling us about your situation and how you think we may be able to help.
A staff member from one of Melbourne or Sydney clinics will be in touch.
For immediate help, we urge you to contact lifeline on 13 11 14

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Personalising Mental Healthcare since 2001, using state-of-the-art neuromodulation to help children, adults and their families achieve lasting mental wellness.

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