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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is characterized by the presence of unwanted and intrusive obsessions and/or compulsions.

What are obsessions?


      •   Obsessions are unwanted thoughts, images, and impulses that are recurrent and persistent. They cause a considerable amount of anxiety. Obsessions are distinct from excessive worry about real-life problems. A person with OCD recognizes that the worry is created in their own mind (i.e., not being imposed from an outside source) and is aware that it makes very little sense. The person often tries to ignore or suppress the obsessions with other thoughts or actions.
      •   Common types of obsessions include: concern with contamination; causing harm to self or others; becoming contaminated; a need for things to be ordered (to prevent bad things happening); or repetitive and upsetting thoughts, images, or urges of a religious, sexual or immoral nature. Obsessions may also be experienced as an image or scene in the mind.

What are compulsions?


      • Compulsions are repetitive behaviours or mental acts that a person feels driven to carry out to reduce anxiety or prevent a dreaded event from occurring.
      • Common compulsions include cleaning (e.g., washing hands repeatedly) and checking (e.g., checking the door is locked multiple times before leaving). Other types of compulsions include hoarding, arranging, ordering, excessive reassurance-seeking, and carrying out tasks in a rigid and orderly fashion.
      • Compulsions are often, but not always, associated with an obsession (e.g., the compulsion to frequently wash one's hands to reduce the obsession with germ contamination). Some people experience only obsessions, but may use distraction, avoidance, or mental rituals to lessen their anxiety.


Treatment for OCD


      •   Learning about your symptoms.
      •   Learning how to control those symptoms, and slowly (and gradually) practicing going into situations you fear (to teach yourself, slowly and gradually, that you can manage those situations).

You can talk to your General Practitioner about getting a referral to a Clinical Psychologist or another mental health professional to learn to manage your OCD. The Online Therapy Unit currently does not offer a treatment course for OCD.