The disorder 500,000 Australians are silently living with

There is a disorder that so many Australians are living with every day… But they do so in silence. 500,000 Australians wake up every day, some not even realising exactly why they are “that way”. Some people may call them pedantic, fussy or difficult. But the truth is they can’t turn it off. Only a third of patients have ever sought out some kind of professional treatment or help and it is time we changed this.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a serious problem, and new research that will be released later today will support the findings of the Australian Physiological Society, suggesting that e-therapies like a virtual therapist could be just as effective for helping OCD sufferers as a face-to-face practitioner.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Professor Michael Kyrios, director of the ANU Research School of Psychology and president of the Australian Psychological Society, said an evaluation of online treatments proved it could be as effective as face-to-face therapy in people with low to moderate OCD.

“I was not a believer,” he said. “I was always of the view that you needed to have face-to-face therapy to have any impact on their wellbeing but it does work and it works really well as a form of early intervention.”

Australia is renowned as a world leader in e-therapy, and these programs will assist OCD sufferers by using interactive cognitive behavioural therapy.

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Professor Kyrios’ research has found that e-therapy can reach people who don’t traditionally seek help for mental health problems, as well as those in remote areas. “This is a way to overcome the physical and psychological barriers,” he said. “This may be a way of getting to males, particularly males.”

The Sydney Morning Herald reports, that people with OCD endure symptoms for an average of seven years before seeking help, with the condition generally becoming chronic if left untreated. In about 50 per cent of cases symptoms first appear when in the sufferer is in their teens and are defined by recurrent and persistent thoughts and repetitive behaviours performed according to rigid rules.

Speaking from personal experience, growing up with a neighbour with OCD, I can attest to the seriousness of the disorder. James found it difficult to play with other children when he was young. He wouldn’t let other people into his room, he would get incredibly emotional when something upset his day-to-day pattern and he only had a mild case of OCD.

It is something we very rarely talk about, but with so many Australians living in silence every day, it is time to break the stigma.

Have you or a loved one suffered from OCD? Do you welcome the e-therapies for sufferers?