Hypnotherapy for OCD: Does it Work?
Every now and then I hear someone remark that they are ‘a bit OCD’ or they describe a friend as ‘sooo OCD’. Of course, what generally follows is a story about the tidiness of the house or the way they prefer structure to spontaneity. We all have that friend who sorts their Lego by colour into an Ikea Trofast. With the colour written in crafted sticky labels on each drawer – in the right colour of course. Because no one writes orange in blue, it is way too confusing for the brain. If you are anything like me, you are desperate to home edit your house. The rainbow of neat and tidiness with a backdrop of white feels so good.
Structured not Obsessive Compulsive
Now, that friend – the Lego one – might experience obsessive compulsive disorder. More likely they are very organised and structured. An organised and structured person will keep their environment neat and tidy. Work to schedules and lists, create and follow their own rules, find it easy to make decisions and stick to them. Rarely change their mind and dislike changes. The opposite is true for a free-spirited character, who lives life more spontaneously with changes. Easily adapts and prefers to live free from rules, structure, closure, and fixture. They also prefer to work and live in less tidy, organised spaces. There is some research to indicate that those with structured personality traits have a greater likelihood of developing OCD. However, if you feel more comfortable with structure it does not mean you should expect a diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive disorder. In addition, we should all reconsider describing our structured friends as OCD.
OCD and anxiety come hand in hand. In fact, it is only in the most recent edition of the DSM that OCD has moved from the anxiety section. Characterised by obsessive involuntary thoughts, impulses or images that appear continually in your mind and compulsive acts you carry out to get rid of the obsessions; OCD now has a separate classification of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders. The interwoven play between obsession and compulsion becomes a vicious cycle as the compulsions do not remove the obsessions often instead escalating anxiety and the symptoms of OCD.
What Causes OCD and anxiety?
I feel that I should start this paragraph with the simple answer of we do not know. We do have some theories and likelihood scenarios. However, just like when you break a leg, the how and why is personal. Some people believe that OCD is the result of a previous experience, a painful childhood, bullying, trauma, or abuse. OCD might be a learned behaviour through copying or coping. Prolonged stress or anxiety is sometimes thought to be a trigger for obsessive compulsive thoughts and behaviours. There is a hypothesis that OCD is the effect of too little serotonin in the brain. This hypothesis is based on the effect of SSRI medications on the symptoms of OCD – relapse occurrence is greater with withdrawal of SSRI medications in OCD than in other disorders.
Hypnotherapy for OCD
I have successfully worked with others to help them overcome obsessive, compulsive thoughts and behaviours. Hypnosis for OCD is beneficial when combined with a variety of modalities depending on the individual situation. What causes OCD and anxiety is different for each person and the playing out of symptoms personal to the individual. I find mindfulness to be extremely beneficial. When your focus on the actuality of the moment intensifies using mindfulness techniques you will become more aware of your triggers. If you are already aware of your triggers note them. Using the same mindfulness techniques, remain in the moment and consciously aware of each action you perform. For example, if you fall into the ‘checker’ bracket of OCD and your trigger is locking the front door before you go to sleep, lock the door consciously.
I once heard the story of a Buddhist monk that takes a daily walk with his fellow ashram residents. Each day there is an expectation to find a new stone. Pick up the stone and familiarise themselves with its intricacies. This exercise helps the monks to remain present in the moment. Every time you lock your front door notice something new. The way it sounds when you lock it, the sounds of outside and a different marking on your wall. Give yourself time to ‘be’ in that moment when you lock the front door, so it becomes easier and natural to recall when you begin to doubt yourself.
Seeking Help for OCD
If you have the capacity to seek help in your recovery from OCD, hypnosis with a therapist experienced in OCD and anxiety is a positive step. There is little research into the efficacy of hypnosis for OCD. However, an article in the Australian Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis exhibits a significant change in symptoms after six sessions of hypnosis, in conjunction with temporary clomipramine. OCD is exhausting and frustrating. If you feel that you experience some of the obsessive thoughts or compulsive actions described above, seeking support will give you the opportunity live a happy life without them.
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