Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

man opening door, worried

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is characterised by the presence of unwanted and intrusive obsessions and/or compulsions.

What are obsessions?

  • Obsessions are recurrent, persistent, and unwanted thoughts, images or impulses that are intrusive and cause considerable anxiety. Obsessions are distinct from excessive worries about real-life problems. The person with OCD recognises that the thoughts are created in their own mind (i.e. not being imposed from an outside source) and are aware that they make very little sense. The person often tries to ignore or suppress the obsessions with other thoughts or action
  • The most common types of obsessions include those concerned with contamination, and harm to self or others. Other types of obsessions relate to becoming violent, inappropriate sexual thoughts, or being blasphemous. Obsessions may also be experienced as an image or scene in the mind

What are compulsions?

  • Compulsions are repetitive behaviours or mental acts that a person feels driven to carry out to reduce anxiety or prevent a dreaded event from occurring
  • Common compulsions include washing and checking. Others include hoarding, arranging, ordering, excessive reassurance seeking and doing tasks in a rigid and orderly fashion
  • Compulsions are often, but not always, associated with an obsession (for e.g. frequent hand washing in association with fear of contamination). Some people experience only obsessions, but may use distraction, avoidance or mental rituals to lessen their anxiety