Most of us have some sort of mild obsession or compulsion- thing alike worrying of we have kept the windows open in the house or the door unlocked. These do not interfere in our lives. When these activities or worries start to take up a large part of our day and cause us distress then they become a bigger problem.

 

Do I have OCD?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is made up of obsessions and compulsions. You may have either or both, but unwanted, constant worry or anxiety about them is a symptom of OCD.

 

Symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) 

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) affects people differently, but usually causes a particular pattern of thought and behaviour.

This pattern has four main steps:

 

  • obsession– where an unwanted, intrusive and often distressing thought, image or urge repeatedly enters your mind
  • anxiety– the obsession provokes a feeling of intense anxiety or distress
  • compulsion– repetitive behaviours or mental acts that you feel driven to perform as a result of the anxiety and distress caused by the obsession
  • temporary relief– the compulsive behaviour brings temporary relief from anxiety, but the obsession and anxiety soon return, causing the cycle to begin again

 

Obsessions are unwelcome thoughts, urges or doubts that appear repeatedly in your mind. Examples of common obsessions can include:

Some common obsessions that affect people with OCD include:

 

  • fear of deliberately harming yourself or others – for example, fear you may attack someone else, even though this type of behaviour disgusts you
  • fear of harming yourself or others by mistake or accident – for example, fear you may set the house on fire by accidentally leaving the cooker on
  • fear of contamination by disease, infection or an unpleasant substance
  • a need for symmetry or orderliness – for example, you may feel the need to ensure all the labels on the tins in your cupboard face the same way

 

Compulsions are repetitive actions based on worrying thoughts like the ones listed above. Common examples include:

  • cleaning and hand washing
  • checking – such as checking doors are locked, or that the gas or a tap is off
  • counting
  • ordering and arranging
  • hoarding
  • asking for reassurance
  • repeating words silently
  • extensively "overthinking" to ensure the feared consequence of the obsession does not occur – for example, if you fear you may act violently
  • thinking "neutralising" thoughts to counter the obsessive thoughts
  • avoiding places and situations that could trigger obsessive thoughts