A new treatment helping people with obsessive compulsive disorder cope with daily life could transform lives, experts believe.
Chiefs at Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust are examining people with the condition – and treating them with a new therapy as part of a pilot study.
Prof Adrian Wells, a consultant clinical psychologist for the trust, has developed Metacognitive Therapy, which involves trying to stop negative thoughts to reduce anxiety and changing the way people think about their fears. He ran three pilot groups over eight weeks with research colleague Dr Peter Fisher – and sufferers showed significant improvements in symptoms.
Living with OCD can be challenging, with life interrupted by thoughts that might be religious, sexual or violent. In some types of OCD, thoughts focus on fears of contamination or doubts about performing simple actions, such as turning off the gas stove. Some people develop rituals to help them cope, such as obsessive hand-washing.
Prof Wells said: “Our research has shown that people with OCD demonstrate certain types of negative beliefs about the power of their thoughts and this seems to be an important factor in the development of the problem. Obsessional thoughts are common, and about 80 per cent of people report them. But for a smaller number of people, these thoughts or urges become a real problem.
“When the person copes by adopting rituals such as washing or repeating actions, for example, then the thought persists. It’s an example of too much thinking about thinking.
“What MCT does is help people to challenge negative beliefs about thoughts and change how they react to them. And so far, those who took part are reporting remarkable changes and high recovery rates.”