What is OCD?

Recognising the signs and symptoms of OCD

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a mental health condition which can make someone think about worries or things that frighten them, over and over again.

Someone with OCD may perform rituals to help manage their anxiety or seek constant reassurance from others. These impulses and behaviours may inhibit how they live their life or affect their relationships with other people.

What are the symptoms of OCD?

OCD can make people feel obsessed about fears they worry may become a reality. They may be anxious about, or see pictures in their mind, of a family-member coming to harm. Or they may imagine how something harmless they did could lead to a frightening situation happening, with consequences out of their control.

Some people living with OCD are perfectionists, who create a strictly defined sense of order in their belongings or personal habits.

OCD can make people feel anxious about things going wrong, anxious about their anxieties and anxious about the impact that this has on their life and on their loved ones.

Many people living with OCD develop compulsions to offset their sense of risk – for example, constantly cleaning to prevent contamination from germs, or performing check-and-double check rituals. They may need constant reassurance from others.

OCD can be genetic, or brought on by stress or significant life-changes.

Help and support with OCD

Having a routine, or very orderly way of doing things can simply be part of who you are, or a practical way to manage the demands of life, work and family. But you may feel you need help, if your anxiety or compulsions are preventing you from living the life you want to lead, or they’re affecting your work or relationships.

If you are struggling with obsessive thoughts, anxieties or rituals, seek advice from your GP. They may suggest treatments including antidepressants, guided self-help or a talking treatment.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), can people with OCD change the way they react to thoughts that worry them.

Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) is a gradual step-by-step approach to acknowledging, facing and practically addressing anxieties without resorting to stress rituals.

Peer support from other people who’ve experienced OCD may help you feel less isolated and anxious about what you are going through.

If you’re struggling with OCD or feel alone, you can turn to us. You don’t need a diagnosis, referral or appointment to access mental wellbeing support and friendship at Make a Difference.