How Young People Make Sense of Developing and Getting Help for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Keyes, Carly Victoria
There has been an abundance of studies that have adopted positivist approaches, employing quantitative methods, to research OCD ‘symptoms’ and their underlying neurobiology and neurochemistry. There appears to be a lack of research investigating how OCD is experienced by those living with the diagnosis, and in particular the experiences of young people diagnosed with OCD. Ten young people, aged 14-17 years old, with a diagnosis of OCD were recruited from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). The young people were interviewed and a Thematic Analysis (TA) was used to analyse data. Four themes were developed through the analysis. The first theme ‘Traumatic and stressful life events’ found that 9 out of the 10 participants experienced at least one of the following three life events just prior to the development of their OCD: ‘Hostility in the family’, ‘Illness and death’, ‘Bullying and friendlessness’. Four subthemes, ‘Lack of understanding of the behaviour’, ‘Being secretive’, ‘I thought I was going crazy’, and ‘Feeling different’, provided a richer understanding to the theme ‘Responses to signs of OCD’. The four subthemes ‘Feeling ‘right’’, ‘I was taking on all the responsibility’, ‘It’s ruined everything’, ‘Everyday life is now in my bedroom’ explored the third theme ‘The battle of living with OCD’. The last theme ‘Ambivalent relationship to help’ described the conflict that most participants had over exposure therapy and accommodation of their OCD. Lastly, most participants felt the long waiting time for help was frustrating. The theme is fully explored by the following three subthemes: ‘Conflicts of exposure therapy’, ‘Conflicts about accommodation of the OCD’, ‘and ‘Frustrations of long waiting lists’. The themes that emerged may provide important information for clinicians and the implications of the research findings are discussed. The strengths and limitations of the study are noted and there are suggestions for future research.