Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

OCD is an anxiety disorder in which someone experiences recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and/or ritual behaviours (compulsions). At least one-third of adult OCD cases begin in childhood.

What are the signs?

We all sometimes feel the need to double-check that the door is locked or the cooker is switched off, but for people with OCD, these obsessions take over their lives. The symptoms are two-fold, alternating between obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviour. Some people may display either one type of symptom or the other.

Obsessive thoughts may include:

  • OCDFear of being contaminated by germs or dirt
  • Imagining that you have harmed yourself or others
  • Imagining losing control, or having aggressive urges
  • Intrusive sexual thoughts or urges
  • Excessive religious or moral doubt
  • A need to have things in order
  • A need to tell, ask or confess

Rituals (compulsions) are often a result of these obsessive thoughts. Probably the best-known example is hand-washing. Other rituals include:

  • Counting
  • Ordering or arranging
  • Hoarding or saving
  • Touching others inappropriately
  • Repeating things
  • Constant checking

How is it treated?

The usual plan of action for OCD is a combination of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and hypno-psychotherapy, usually taking an average of 8 to 10 sessions.