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More help for OCD sufferers

24th November 2005

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) sufferers wait years for diagnosis and are often too embarrassed to seek help for the condition, according to experts.

Psychiatrists have said roughly one or two people in every 100 have the condition, which plagues sufferers with irrational thoughts and ritualistic behaviour, such as excessive hand washing.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health have now launched a clinical guideline to help GPs identify the condition more quickly, after is was discovered many patients waited up to 17 years for diagnosis.

The guidelines will also cover Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), an unrelated condition which causes sufferers to become obsessed with physical defects that exist only in their mind.

Nice chief executive Andrew Dillion said: “The condition often goes unrecognised and untreated and we hope the guideline will help raise awareness of this distressing condition which in most cases can be effectively treated.”

The guidelines say that people suffering from OCD, particularly under-18s, should be offered cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) which encourages them to talk about their condition.

More severe cases, however, may benefit from antidepressant medication, according to Nice.

Professor Mark Freeston from Newcastle upon Tyne, who helped develop the new guidelines, said: “The World Health Organisation (WHO) ranks OCD in the top ten of the most disabling illnesses by lost income and decreased quality of life.

“Despite this we know many people with OCD don’t come forward for treatment for many years, often because of the stigma attached to the condition.

“Because people may not spontaneously talk about their difficulties, health professionals need to be better at asking the right questions and offering the right treatments.

“Accurate and early diagnosis, as well as effective treatment, can make a real difference.”

Commenting on the new guidelines, charity OCD-UK, said it welcomed the updated advice for GPs but insisted that more needed to be done before any improvement would be seen.

“While we welcome the guidelines as a first step, there needs to be more investment in support services for OCD sufferers,” the charity’s chief executive, Ashley Fullwood, said.

track© Adfero Ltd

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