Feature Article

Guidelines for recognition and treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder

Merran Lindsay, Rocco Crino, Gavin Andrews
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Obsessive compulsive disorder is a disabling condition that affects 100,000 adult Australians each year. Only rarely does it recover spontaneously. Treatment usually works well, but many sufferers are too embarrassed to seek help.

Key Points

  • Obsessions are intrusive thoughts, images or impulses which generate anxiety or distress.
  • Compulsions are performed in response to obsessions in an attempt to alleviate anxiety or prevent a feared consequence.
  • Obsessions and compulsions significantly interfere with the person’s everyday activities or take more than one hour a day.
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder can be successfully treated in the majority of cases with behaviour therapy alone or in combination with an SSRI.
  • Referral to a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist for behaviour therapy is recommended.