Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a condition that causes repeated unwanted thoughts or sensations (obsessions) or the urge to do something over and over again (compulsions). Some people can have both obsessions and compulsions.
An obsessive thought might be that certain numbers or colours are good or bad'. A compulsive habit might be to wash your hands seven times after touching something that could be dirty. Although you may not want to think or do these things, you feel powerless to stop.
These thoughts and habits are not the same as biting your nails, they are often beyond a persons control, aren't enjoyable, and often interfere with work, social life or other parts of life.
Many people who have OCD know that their thoughts and habits don’t make sense. They don’t do them because they enjoy them, but because they can’t quit; if they stop, they feel so bad that they start again.
OCD comes in many forms, but most cases fall into at least one of four general categories:
- Checking, such as locks, alarm systems, ovens, or light switches, or thinking you have a medical condition like pregnancy or schizophrenia.
- Contamination, a fear of things that might be dirty or a compulsion to clean. Mental contamination involves feeling like you’ve been treated like dirt.
- Symmetry and ordering, the need to have things lined up in a certain way
- Ruminations and intrusive thoughts, an obsession with a line of thought. Some of these thoughts might be violent or disturbing.
Treatment for severe OCD may be a combination of therapy and medication.
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
- Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP)
Antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), can be used; these help by altering the balance of chemicals in your brain.
It is worth noting that treatment of OCD can often take a while for the effects to become noticeable. Support groups for OCD are also available, and a list of these are on the NHS Website.