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About obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

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What if we are keeping ourselves busy, overworking and feeling overwhelmed, just to feel comfortable?

We live in a world that glorifies overworking and fulfilling busy schedules, leaving little to no time for us to pause and process the impact this may have on our mental health. Statistics show that 34% of Australians work overtime. In addition, the average Australian works 319 hours of unpaid overtime a year - this is equivalent to an extra 38 hours of work a week. We are easily maneuverer to operate beyond our time clock without considering the negative impacts it can have.

Finding time within our busy schedules to prioritise our mental health is highly important, yet many of us struggle to find this balance. This is reflected through statistics, highlighting that one in eight Australians are currently experiencing high or very high psychological distress.

But what does OCD have to do with our everyday lives?
OCD is a mental health condition that embodies two key symptoms: obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are thoughts, images or feelings that are constant and reoccurring in the mind. Compulsions mimic the actions of obsessions as they attempt to rid the mind of the obsessive thoughts. This can be experienced by someone through both physical movement and internal thoughts.

Obsessions may look like:

  • Fear of contamination
  • Aggressive impulses
  • Thoughts that you/others might be harmed.
  • Compulsions may look like:
  • Repeated cleaning/repeated washing of hands
  • Constant checking/counting items
  • Arranging items to face in a certain way.

Did you know that close to 3% of people in Australia experience an episode of OCD in their lifetime?1

OCD can make it difficult for people to perform everyday activities. In severe cases, people with OCD can become housebound, which can interfere with the maintenance of employment, school, and/or relationships. Recognising OCD and learning how to most effectively manage obsessive thoughts and compulsions is a different process for everyone. Dedicating your effort into a positive activity like meeting with friends or picking up a new hobby is a healthy coping mechanism to combat OCD symptoms. It’s surprising but true, keeping busy may be an effective way to manage OCD. It can help the mind focus on something else, alleviating obsessive and compulsive behaviours or at the very least, making these symptoms manageable.

Basic lifestyle factors also play a role in this. Enough sleep, drinking water, eating healthily,
and exercising all contribute to helping manage OCD symptoms.

Treatments

OCD is treatable and seeking support from your healthcare provider is the first step towards recovery. The two main types of OCD treatment are psychological treatments (generally the first line of treatment) and, in some severe cases, medication may be prescribed.  

Next-step treatments

Everyone is different, and will respond to treatment in different ways. For some people, first-line treatments and medications may not be enough to manage symptoms. The good news is that there are next-step treatments available, including deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (dTMS) which is a newly available therapy designed to treat symptoms of OCD.

 


References: 1. Australian Bureau of Statistics: Working Arrangements: hGps://www.abs.gov.au/staDsDcs/ labour/earnings-and-working-condiDons/working-arrangements/latest-release# methodology 2. The Guardian: Australians working 15 hours more unpaid overtime each week: hGps:// www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/nov/17/australians-working-15-hours-more-unpaidoverDme-each-week-compared-to-
pre-covid#:~: text=By%20working%20an%20extra%20319,%24461.60%20a%20worker%20every%20fortnight. 3. Beyond Blue: Media Statistics: hGps://www.beyondblue.org.au/media/staDsDcs 4.OCD Australia: About OCD: hGps://www.ocdaus.org/about-ocd/

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