Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, is a common anxiety problem with two main problems: Obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are thoughts, feelings or images that people do not want – they can provoke anxiety and unrest. Compulsions are a reaction to this in the form of repetitive behaviours or mental acts to try and settle the feelings associated with the obsession.
Despite much research these is no clear cause of OCD. Many theories have been made about the potential causes including: environmental factors, pregnancy, genetics, triggering events, learned behaviours or neurobiological. Theories speculate that it could be one or a combination of the above factors that leads to OCD.
There are many different symptoms of OCD depending on the obsession of the individual. These may include but are not limited to:
- Physical or mental rituals (sometimes containing numbers) such as repetitive hand washing, a certain order to objects, touching objects around the room in a set pattern.
- Worrying that not taking certain actions will cause harm to friends or family
- Needing to keep things obsessively clean
- Intrusive thoughts
- Counting to certain numbers
- Checking windows and door locks repetitively
- Checking the oven or electronics are off repetitively
- Repeating key words or phrases either out loud or in your head
A diagnosis of OCD can be received by referring yourself to a local psychological service or also by receiving a referral from your GP if they are concerned that you may be suffering.
Treatment for OCD with usually involve psychological therapies such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) or ERP (Exposure and Response Prevention). A doctor may prescribe medication to help control symptoms of OCD, this will often be medication for depression or anxiety to help with the associated feelings. There may also be local support groups to join as well as online sites geared at supporting people with the disorder. Peer support and stress management can also be invaluable tools.
If you or anybody close to you is experiencing these difficulties please seek help. Contact your primary care doctor who can put you in touch with the correct services.