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Mental health conditions

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

What is Obsessvie Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a psychological disorder that involves a person experiencing recurring obsessions and compulsions that cause distress and interfere in their lives.

Obsessions are unwanted and intrusive thoughts, images, urges, doubts or ideas that keep coming back and are difficult to stop. These thoughts are unpleasant and often make people feel scared, ashamed, disgusted or embarrassed. Some examples of obsessions include fears of contamination, fears of harm coming to themselves or others and unpleasant sexual thoughts.

Compulsions are mental or physical actions that people feel they must do to take away the distress caused by the obsessions. Often it does not make sense to other people how these behaviours work but people with OCD feel that they must carry out the behaviours even when they do not want to. Some examples of compulsions include excessive or ritualised washing, avoiding people or situations, repeating and checking things and seeking reassurance from others. Compulsions also include thoughts that people may have to do in their head, these are called mental rituals, and may include counting, chanting or neutralising bad thoughts. 


Signs and symptoms:

People with OCD will spend a lot of time feeling worried and upset. OCD has a significant impact on someone’s daily life as it can take up a lot of time and make it difficult for them to do things they enjoy. It can also have a significant impact on relationships with family, partners and friends and makes it harder to go to work, school or college.


Written by Dr Sarah Lavender

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