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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is regarded as an anxiety disorder and can be very debilitating. OCD is relatively common; here in the United Kingdom current estimates suggest that 1.2% of the population will have OCD, which equates to 12 out of every 1000 people.
Do I have OCD?
The condition has two main parts: obsessions and compulsions.
- Obsessions are unwelcome thoughts, images, urges or doubts that repeatedly appear in your mind. Common examples include thinking that you have been contaminated by dirt and germs, experiencing a sudden urge to hurt someone or unwanted blasphemous thoughts.
- These obsessions are often frightening or seem so horrible that you can’t share them with others. The obsession interrupts your other thoughts and makes you feel very anxious.
- Compulsions are repetitive behaviours that you feel you have to do. These are often in response to the obsessional thoughts as a way to relieve the distress they cause. However, compulsions can take over daily life creating more problems. Common compulsions include repeatedly checking a door to make sure it is locked or repeating a specific phrase in your head to prevent harm coming to a loved one.
- Many people find that they begin to avoid certain situations that make the obsessions and compulsions worse. For example, avoiding certain foods if you believe they have been contaminated.
When is OCD a problem?
OCD affects people differently, some people are able to live alongside their OCD and to manage it effectively. However, for others it can be severely debilitating. If you find that daily life is increasingly difficult because of your symptoms and that the OCD is beginning to have an impact on your quality of life, then seeking support and treatment would be worthwhile.
There is an increasing amount of research into effective treatments for OCD including talking therapies and medication (and often a combination of the two). The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidance recommends Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) as an effective treatment for OCD. The approach can be tailored to the needs of the individual and the severity of their symptoms.