"Success isn't just about what you accomplish in your life, it's about what you inspire others to do."
"Perhaps Karen's greatest strength is her personal understanding of OCD. Having suffered and got control over both contamination and harm OCD, Karen really knows how we OCD sufferers feel. It was inspirational to hear her describe how her OCD used to control her and how she got control. Her OCD is very similar to mine, and it was really helpful to hear my thought processes said aloud to me. Doing ERP with her is easier because you know she never underestimates your fears and therefore the courage you are using to face them." (Anne)

What causes OCD?

 When understanding the cause of OCD there are several factors to consider.

There are three main areas involved:

  • Biological - Genetic predisposition.

It is now well accepted people who suffer from OCD also have a family member who also experiences a mental illness or disorder. This may not necessary present itself as OCD. Other mental illness such as Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder, bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, eating disorders, Tourette syndrome, trichotillomania, borderline personality disorder, body dysmorphic disorder, compulsive skin picking and hoarding disorder. Other connections are compulsive addiction such as gambling and drinking. Sometimes OCD can co-exist with the respective afore mentioned disorders as well.

  • Psychological - Your personality type and perfectionist values.

People who experience OCD have very high standards and values in their chosen field. They tend to be perfectionist, highly sensitive to rejection, experience high levels of personal responsibility, and be very creative, empathic and caring. They will be great thinkers and have a tendency to over analyse a situation and find it difficult to move on.

  • Environmental – Life style, upbringing, stress, pressure and traumatic experiences.

The onslaught of OCD generally begins after a stressful situation. This could include anything from bereavement, moving home, school, being bullied and too much pressure from parents or peers. A higher level of sensitivity and dysfunctional thinking styles perhaps makes the sufferer more vulnerable. If a traumatic experience occurred as in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) this could also trigger the biological disorder.

Other triggers include illness, hospitalisation and hormones. Many adults admit to first experiencing OCD traits and behaviours around their teenage years. Pregnancy and childbirth can trigger OCD, however it’s unsure if its hormones alone or a combination of hormones and sleepless nights along with new parental responsibilities, trigger the condition.

Streptococci throat infection and Lyme disease have reportedly been a precursor to the development of OCD. Although theses illnesses don’t cause OCD, again I believe they can trigger the biological disposition.

Having considered the afore mentioned in some cases people with the biological disposition do not go onto to develop OCD. Why? Well I believe if their environment suits them and they are supported and well-adjusted individuals and have good parent and peer support then the genetics may not get switched on. It is also fair to say they may have had a slight tendency towards it, but managed to suppress the growth and the condition went into remission.



 OCD and Depression


"There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds." ― Laurell K. Hamilton

Depression is often accompanied with OCD. It can either be a separate comorbid condition or a symptom of the condition. This in itself can confuse and exasperate the disorder. OCD at its worse is enough to make the sufferer depressed as it robs people of their confidence and depletes their energy. OCD also coined the ‘The doubting disease’ evokes worry. Being plagued by intrusions which causes anxiety and fear and not being able to trust yourself anymore would ultimately lead to depression.
Symptoms of a Clinical Depression
• Loss of interest or pleasure
• Irritability
• Difficulty in making decisions
• Finding it hard to concentrate
• Sense of worthlessness and guilt
• Feelings of sadness, hopelessness and despair
• Change in appetite (over eating or loss of appetite)
• Change in sleep (Too much or too little)
• Decreased energy
• Thoughts of death and suicide
If you believe you are experiencing depression and not sure whether it’s reactive or clinical then one way to establish an answer is to ask yourself were you depressed before you experienced OCD? If the answer is NO then it’s probable that your depression is a symptom of your condition.
However this is not a full proof answer. Genetics and biology have also got a hand in this. So if you have a genetic family member who sufferers from depression it is likely the OCD could have triggered the genetics which would mean you have clinical depression.
The good news is, like OCD, depression can be treated and managed. Medication such as SSRI’s (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) helps to elevate some of the symptoms. Talking therapies such as CBT have been proven to help support negative behaviours and give you tools and techniques on how to challenge your negative thoughts, feelings and behaviours.



Can OCD be cured?

This is the question!
To answer this I think there are a lot of factors to consider. Firstly it’s one’s own explanation of cure.
If cure means never to experience an OCD thought, feeling, urge, idea or image ever again then that would also mean you may be cured but you may also be brain dead. After all we have a little OCD inside all of us. We all check, ask for reassurance, doubt, avoid and worry. These are the hallmarks of OCD and they are not allusive to anyone. However what sets OCD apart is the level of distress experienced, the length of time and level of intrusiveness affecting the individual. So affectively OCD becomes a disorder when it starts to invade your personal wellbeing. So if you have just a little OCD and it doesn’t bother you then I guess you can consider this a cure.
Generally speaking I prefer to say it is possible to get full management over your condition.


 How to Stop OCD?

Everyone wants the magic pill or the magic answers. Let’s be honest here. What exactly does it mean to stop OCD?
Well the simple answer to this desperate and frequently asked question is…….. You can’t STOP OCD!
Why? Because you can’t control the random automatic thoughts your brain sends out to you. But you can learn to control your responses to it. When you stop compulsively acting the way OCD demands you to act, you actually take back control of your life and eventually your brain will habituate to a healthier way of dealing with an OCD situation. This means in time the brain will stop throwing out intrusions that make you want to check, neutralise or get rid of the obsession or the intrusions will be so mild that you are able to easily ignore them. 
There’s a saying which says… “You can’t have OCD if you don’t do OCD!”
This means, if you ‘STOP’ the compulsions, which are the driving, force behind the obsessions, then you are teaching your brain a new way of responding. Compulsions are a choice. This is what you can control and Stop! Without the compulsions the obsessions have no power. When you stop the compulsions the obsessions will fade into the back ground and will no longer be a trigger for you to respond negatively to them.

 Living with OCD

I think ‘Living with OCD’ has to be split into different meanings.
Nobody should have to live with OCD unless they choose to.  Having said this even if the effected OCD person refuses medication, help, and therapy and believe they are rather content living in an OCD world then this can still affect people most close to them. Often the people they live with are performing behaviours as if they too are afflicted with the biological disorder. This is not fair and only serves to exasperate the problem further and deeper. When this happens it’s really important that the carers research the condition and try and find some support themselves via a therapist, doctor or social services support.
What if the sufferer has tried everything on offer to him/her including self-help materials, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Exposure Response Prevention therapy and medication, but are recovery resistant?
This is a really tricky question to answer. Sometimes this is the case however, so far to date this has not been my experience. My intuition would be asking some very deep questions such as what is the payoff for living with OCD.  What is the fear of letting go? Did they take the therapy seriously? Did they trust their therapist? Are they also experiencing another mental illness or even physical illness? Did they try different medications? What sort of stresses have they got in their life? Are they content in their environment? Have they meaning and purpose in their life? Do they suffer from any addictions? As you can see there are several variables to supporting recovery or illness.Thirdly:What if the sufferer has really tried to combat his OCD and has been non successful? This is another area that is really sensitive and not straight forward at all. I think the answer is to never give up hope and never give in. Keep searching for specialist treatment and keep yourself informed with the latest medical advances. 


How to help someone with OCD

Knowledge is all powerful!
The following are guidelines on how to support someone with OCD.
• Listen to the sufferer but don’t ridicule or laugh at them, although it’s really good to laugh at the OCD.
• Support by researching help for them.
• Accompany them to the doctor or therapist if they want you to.
• Try not to aid their compulsive behaviours.
• Help them to separate themselves from the disorder. For example “That is OCD telling you to do…not the real rational you.”
• Be kind. Try not to get frustrated and inpatient.
• Get informed about the condition.
• Learn how to support the sufferer appropriately through self-help materials and therapist’s advice.
• Try not to reassure the sufferer. Set up a deal that they can only ask once for example.
• Remember the sufferer has been sold into the OCD web of lies. You need to diffuse yourself from the lies and be strong. You need to demonstrate the correct behaviour to the sufferer.
• Constant reassurance will give more meaning to the sufferer’s issues. Don’t get fooled!
• Know your boundaries and try and keep consistent.



Intrusive Thoughts

Most people experience intrusive thoughts. Sometimes particularly if you are stressed, anxious and or have a mental condition, the nature of your thoughts can be very weird, scary and uncomfortable. But people with healthy cognition realise they are just thoughts and don’t give any meaning to them. However someone who is affected by OCD has become overly cautious and conscious to their thinking, and will often identify their thoughts as something to be aware and vigilant about, after all our brains don’t lie to us …do they? Well if you are suffering from OCD then your brain is sending you deceptive messages that make you doubt and fearful. OCD will also lock onto what you care about most. For example if you love and care for children the OCD condition has the capacity to make you believe through intrusive thoughts, images, urges and ideas that you are a monster because you are having horrifying thoughts of harm towards them.
In my practice is vital for the client to understand, this is not them and the intrusions have no true bearing on them as a person. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Intrusive, abhorrent thoughts are the hallmark of OCD. As disturbing as they may seem it is possible through therapy and understanding to be able to ignore the intrusions and live a very healthy worry free life.




Contact Us

OCD Therapy Clinic
42, Tidcombe Lane,
Devon. EX16 4EQ




0781 2067192