Feature Article

Guidelines for recognition and treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder

Feature Article

Guidelines for recognition and treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder

Merran Lindsay, Rocco Crino, Gavin Andrews

Abstract

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.