What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?


OCD is characterised by recurrent obsessions or compulsions that are time consuming or cause significant distress or impairment.

Obsessions are persistent ideas, thoughts, images or impulses which are experienced by the sufferer as anxiety provoking or distressing. The sufferer has difficulty switching his train of thought onto another topic. It’s like when one plays a scratched CD on a stereo, the same phrase repeats over and over.

Common obsessions include:

  • thoughts of contamination (e.g. ‘Will I catch AIDS from shaking hands?’)
  • repeated doubts (e.g. ‘Did I leave the door unlocked, Did I turn off the light’)
  • need for orderliness (e.g. get distressed when pictures are crooked, objects are untidy)
  • aggressive impulses (e.g. thoughts of killing one’s child or hurting oneself)
  • sexual imagery

OCD sufferers usually try to ignore or suppress their worrying thoughts and impulses or to neutralize them with a compulsion.

Compulsions are observable, or covert, repetitive behaviours or mental acts which are performed to prevent or reduce the anxiety and distress of obsessions.
Compulsive behaviours include:

  • Checking
  • Washing
  • Ordering
  • Requesting or demanding reassurance from other people ( e.g. ‘Did I lock the door?’)

Compulsive mental acts include:

  • Praying
  • Counting
  • Repeating words silently

Medication and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

SSRIs are commonly prescribed for OCD as there is much evidence demonstrating their effectiveness and they are generally well tolerated by patients.

SSRIs used to treat OCD:

  • Fluoxetine
  • Paroxetine
  • Escitalopram
  • Fluvoxamine
  • Sertraline

During the COVID-19 (Corona virus) period, telehealth sessions via phone or online via a video consultation,  are Medicare rebateable for all Australians if you do not wish to attend face to face sessions.

Don’t let OCD ruin your quality your life and make you depressed and overly anxious. Relief is possible. Call 0429 883671

American Psychiatric Association (1994). Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Washington, Dc: American Psychiatric Press


Please note, it is important to consult a qualified mental health practitioner such as e.g. a psychologist or psychiatrist to confirm any diagnosis you think you might have. You must not rely on the information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. No assurance can be given that the information on this site will always include the most recent developments or research with respect to a particular topic.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Anxiety Australia is an anxiety clinic in Hawthorn, Melbourne that is run by Catherine Madigan, who is a clinical psychologist. She primarily focuses on treating anxiety disorders and stress management techniques to individuals and businesses through one on one consultations and stress management workshops.

She offers professional, discreet and confidential treatment options that work.

Catherine’s effective anxiety treatments offered in Melbourne can help you overcome disorders such as:

Call now for an appointment on 0429 883 671

The website provides information about anxiety disorders and the treatment options available. You will also find contact details for other psychologists around Australia who have substantial experience in and/or work primarily with anxiety disorders.

Catherine Madigan is a Melbourne based Clinical Psychologist. She is passionate about empowering clients with confidence. The reason her focus is primarily on the treatment of anxiety disorders is that she gains great satisfaction by witnessing the freedom and life changing results her therapies can deliver.

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorders in Australia, with 1/7 people (14% of the population) reporting having had an anxiety disorder in the last 12 months. Women are more likely to have an anxiety disorder than men, 18% vs 11%. ABS National Survey of Mental Health & Wellbeing, Summary of Results 2007.

Anxiety or fear is a normal response to a present or imagined threat. Mild fear can be helpful as it enables us to respond quickly when faced with a dangerous situation and to be alert in difficult situations (e.g. exams). However, excessive fear may lead to people being paralysed e.g. soldiers under attack may be so afraid they can’t move to take cover, public speakers may find they go blank, forget their lines and are rendered speechless.

Anxiety is a normal emotion as it affects most people and is widespread. You would be abnormal if you didn’t experience fear sometimes. However, if your anxiety is out of proportion to the situation you are experiencing and/or persists in the absence of threat, e.g you worry about events months ahead or are experiencing anxiety long after the danger has passed, you may need professional help.

Some people are more prone to experiencing anxiety than others and it is not caused by just one thing but by a combination of factors including: genetics, family environment and traumatic life experiences. Sufferers may have unhelpful thinking patterns such as perfectionist standards. Nevertheless, you can learn to manage your anxiety more effectively.

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