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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder


Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterised by the frequent presence of intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and compulsive behaviours or acts (compulsions). It can be misunderstood and related back to the idea of a person who likes to have things organised. OCD is in fact primarily an anxiety disorder characterised by the fear of something bad happening and the person being responsible.

The experience of unwanted and intrusive thoughts cause significant anxiety because of how the thoughts are appraised, which in turn causes compulsive behaviours. For example, if someone is worried that they haven’t switched off the oven before leaving the house, they may return home multiple times to check this. The anxiety caused by the fear of accidentally causing damage to themselves or others can be distressing and result in the person feeling compelled to complete checking behaviour to relieve this anxiety. However, the alleviation of these symptoms is usually short lived in those with OCD.

Actions that can help

  1. Build your support networks. Strengthening the relationships around you and being open with others will help you to feel less alone, and will help you to cope better.
  2. Be patient. Recovery can take time and both medication and talking therapy can take a while to help you feel better.
  3. Learn to relax. As with many things, an increase in stress can exacerbate your symptoms. To read more about mindfulness techniques for stress please click here.
  4. Look after yourself. Being mindful of your diet and your sleep and engaging in regular exercise can help to improve your mental wellbeing.
  5. Join a support group. Many people with OCD find peer support groups normalising and they can offer coping skills and reduce isolation.


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How to get help

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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder - Five facts

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