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Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

What is obsessive compulsive disorder?

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health problem that affects people of all ages and from all walks of life. It happens when a person gets caught in a cycle of obsessive thoughts that drive them to do something repetitively. The repetitive behaviours can disrupt daily life and cause great distress.

What are the symptoms?

People with OCD are often concerned about something bad happening unless they take certain actions to prevent it. This is most often linked to germs, dirt and disease (contamination), items not being checked e.g. taps, gas, car doors, windows, and electrical appliances, things not being in a certain order, intrusive thoughts and what they say about them as a person e.g. forbidden sexual or religious thoughts.

Obsessive thoughts

Common obsessive thoughts in OCD include:

  • Fear of being contaminated by germs or dirt or contaminating others
  • Fear of losing control and harming yourself or others
  • Intrusive sexually explicit or violent thoughts and images
  • Excessive focus on religious or moral ideas
  • Fear of losing or not having things you might need
  • Order and symmetry: the idea that everything must line up “just right”
  • Superstitions; excessive attention to something considered lucky or unlucky

Compulsive behaviors

Common compulsive behaviors in OCD include:

  • Excessive double-checking of things, such as locks, appliances, and switches
  • Repeatedly checking in on loved ones to make sure they’re safe
  • Counting, tapping, repeating certain words, or doing other senseless things to reduce anxiety
  • Spending a lot of time washing or cleaning
  • Ordering or arranging things “just so”
  • Praying excessively or engaging in rituals triggered by religious fear
  • Accumulating “junk” such as old newspapers or empty food containers

These rituals are aimed at preventing or reducing the distress of a feared situation. Although the compulsion may bring some relief to this worry, the obsession returns and the cycle repeats itself over and over again

How we can help treat your OCD

If you have an OCD, Thinkaction can help you with self-help or talking therapies. You can join one of our friendly and supportive self-help groups that will help you manage your OCD.

We can also offer you Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for OCD. Your Thinkaction mental health practitioner will use CBT techniques to help you change unhelpful behaviour patterns that cause or prolong symptoms of OCD. This process is always carried out in a gradual, step-by-step way so you feel comfortable and in control.

When life gets too much we can help get you through

Call us on 0300 012 0012.
Ask your GP to refer you.
Text TALK to 82085.

Find your local Thinkaction service

Mental health treatments