Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Having the same distressing thoughts and urges again and again can be symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Find out more about OCD and what to do if you're affected by it.

What is ocd?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a type of anxiety disorder. It can be serious, but it's very treatable.

People with OCD have repeating thoughts, images or feelings that are distressing. They carry out rituals or habits (compulsions) to temporarily feel better.

OCD rituals can be obvious to other people (like checking door locks) or they can happen inside your head (like counting or trying to counteract negative thoughts with positive ones).

OCD thoughts come in all shapes and sizes, but they often revolve around things danger, dirt and contamination, or worries around sexuality or religion.

The symptoms of OCD

You might feel:

  • Your mind being 'invaded' by horrible thought repeatedly
  • Scared, disgusted, guilty, tearful, doubtful or depressed
  • A powerful urge to do something to stop the feelings
  • Temporary relief after rituals
  • A need to ask for reassurance or get people to check things for you

Just because you experience one or more of these symptoms, it doesn't mean you're definitely affected by OCD, it's important to talk to your GP to get a full diagnosis.

What to do

Take the first step - if you think you are affected by OCD, talk to someone you like and trust, like a teacher, relative, counsellor or friend.

It's important not to try and manage alone, as OCD normally needs treatment to get better.

You should also see your GP. They may offer to refer you to the child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS), an expert or a psychiatrist that can help you.

Click here to find out more about how CAMHS works

Treating OCd

You might be offered Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) using a technique called exposure response prevention (ERP), which helps you feel less upset by your thoughts.

There are medications that can help too. Find out more about the drugs used to treat OCD.

where to get help

  • OCD Action - a place for support and information to anybody affected by OCD (0845 390 6232)
  • No Panic - the people to call if you are suffering from panic attacks, OCD, phobias and other related anxiety disorders (0844 967 4848)
  • Childline - if you're under 19 you can confidentially call, e-mail or chat online about any problem big or small (0800 1111)
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