Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a more common condition than people realise in which a person has obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours.
It affects men, women and children and can develop at any age. Some people develop the condition early, often around puberty, but it typically develops during early adulthood.
OCD can be distressing and significantly interfere with your life, but treatment can help you keep it under control.
Symptoms of OCD
If you have OCD, you’ll usually experience frequent obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours.
An obsession is an unwanted and unpleasant thought, image or urge that repeatedly enters your mind, causing feelings of anxiety, disgust or unease.
A compulsion is a repetitive behaviour or mental act that you feel you need to carry out to try to temporarily relieve the unpleasant feelings brought on by the obsessive thought.For example, someone with an obsessive fear of their house being burgled may feel they need to check all the windows and doors are locked several times before they can leave the house.
Getting help for OCD
People with OCD are often reluctant to seek help because they feel ashamed or embarrassed.
But there’s nothing to feel ashamed or embarrassed about. It’s a health condition like any other – it doesn’t mean you’re “mad” and it’s not your fault you have it, if you think a friend or family member may have OCD, try talking to them about your concerns and suggest they seek help.
OCD is unlikely to get better without proper treatment and support.
Causes of OCD
It’s not clear exactly what causes OCD. A number of different factors may play a role in the condition. These include:
- Family history – you’re more likely to develop OCD if a family member has it, possibly because of your genes
- Differences in the brain – some people with OCD have areas of unusually high activity in their brain or low levels of a chemical called serotonin
- Life events – OCD may be more common in people who’ve experienced bullying, abuse or neglect and it sometimes starts after an important life event, such as childbirth or a bereavement
- Personality – neat, meticulous, methodical people with high personal standards may be more likely to develop OCD, as may those who are generally quite anxious or have a very strong sense of responsibility for themselves and others
Treatments for OCD
There are some effective treatments for OCD that can help reduce the impact the condition has on your life. The main treatments are: Counselling and Psychotherapy, usually Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) that helps you change your fears and obsessive thoughts, combined with Hypnotherapy is most especially effective.