Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

What are the symptoms of OCD?

  • People with OCD experience either obsessions and/or compulsions
  • People with OCD usually know their thoughts and/or actions are not warranted (e.g. they know their hands are not dirty) but they still feel compelled to perform the rituals. This often makes them feel embarrassed and they may go to great lengths to hide their behaviours from family, friends and even doctors
  • The symptoms can take up a large amount of time (more than 1 hour per day), causing considerable interference with a person’s life and often that of family members, whom a sufferer may ask for assistance in performing the rituals
  • Many people with OCD experience more than one type of symptom, and symptoms may change over time
  • People with OCD usually experience anxiety relief from performing the compulsions but it is usually short-lived
  • It is common for people with OCD to avoid situations or places that trigger anxiety and compulsions (e.g. avoiding contact with contaminants). This adds to the problem as these people gradually avoid more and more situations and the problem comes to rule their lives. Constant avoidance prevents these people from learning that there is no danger. There may be significant interference to daily routines, relationships, and/or occupational or educational functioning
  • Other conditions may be present, including other anxiety disorders, depression, eating disorders and Tourette’s Syndrome

Who gets OCD?

  • Approximately 2 in 100 people suffer from OCD, or 1.9% of Australian adults over a 12-month period. It affects men and women equally
  • OCD usually develops in adolescence
  • Factors that may contribute to the development of OCD include genetic traits, personality traits, hormonal or chemical changes, and stressful life events