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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 18, Number 6, April 2006

Research: OCD with primary obsessions

Early results for treatment of unwanted thoughts show a significant drop in symptoms. It’s 12 hours that could change your life, if you’re seeking treatment for a subtype of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) that causes repeated, intrusive, and repugnant thoughts. This disorder is called OCD with Primary Obsessions.

Many people are familiar with OCD as the disorder that drives people to repeatedly wash their hands or check locks. People with Primary Obsessions have only intrusive thoughts, images, or impulses with few or no visible compulsions. The most common obsessive thoughts may include unwanted blasphemous thoughts, unwanted thoughts of hurting a loved one or unwanted thoughts about inappropriate sexual acts.

Everyone has inappropriate thoughts from time to time. However, those who develop Primary Obsessions live in constant fear that they will act on them, even though they view them as repugnant, senseless, and inconsistent with their personal nature or character. These people would never actually act on any of the thoughts that plague them. Yet, people with Primary Obsessions experience these unwanted thoughts so frequently and intensely, that sufferers often fear that they are crazy, evil, or even dangerous!

An expert team of psychologists at UBC are currently completing a research project that is using two new treatment methods to treat Primary Obsessions, a disorder previously believed to be virtually untreatable. On average, after 12 one-hour sessions, participants demonstrate a 58% reduction in symptoms.

"This result is beyond expectations for the number of treatment hours," says UBC Psychiatry Prof. Peter McLean, who is leading the study. "Many of these people have been living with unwanted and repulsive thoughts for years. It’s very gratifying to see them freed of these burdens."

Researchers estimate that 23,000 individuals in the Lower Mainland suffer from the disorder and are often misdiagnosed and treated for the anxiety and depression that accompany it. The team at UBC Hospital is accepting participants until May 12, 2006.

Those wishing to be involved in the study must live in the Lower Mainland and be 19 years of age or older. The treatment is free and no doctor referral is necessary. Participants will be interviewed by telephone prior to selection for the study. Treatment is discrete, and all calls are confidential. For further information, visit the web site at www.ocdtreatment.ca or call a UBC anxiety specialist at 604-822-7676.



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