What is OCD?

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterised by obsessions, which are unwanted and intrusive thoughts and images, accompanied by feelings of discomfort and anxiety.  These obsessions may be thoughts of passing on germs to the family resulting in them becoming ill.  To help reduce this anxiety people with OCD engage in compulsions which are rituals, urges and behavioural responses to the thoughts.  A compulsion may therefore include washing hands repeatedly and constant checking to ensure that germs are not passed on to family members.

OCD is more that an occasional worry about whether you have locked your front door.  In OCD, the obsessions and compulsions are severe enough to cause considerable distress and can take up unreasonable amounts of time to the extent that it interferes with daily living.  

Some common obsessions that affect people with OCD include:

  • Fear of deliberately harming yourself or others
  • Fear of harming yourself or others by mistake
  • Fear of contamination
  • A need for symmetry or orderliness

Common types of compulsive behaviours in people with OCD include:

  • Cleaning and handwashing
  • Checking
  • Counting
  • Hoarding
  • Ordering and arranging
  • Seeking reassurance
  • Thinking ‘neutralising’ thoughts to counter the obsessive thought
  • Avoiding places and situations that could trigger obsessive thoughts

It is crucial to understand that OCD is treatable, and the most important first step towards regaining control of your life is to seek specialist support.  Contact us if you feel you may have OCD.

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