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Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition where a person has obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours. According to Rethink, OCD affects around 1 in 50 people in the UK. Some start having symptoms early, often around puberty, but it usually starts during early adulthood. OCD can be distressing and significantly interfere with your life, but treatment can help you keep it under control.

  • Obsessions are persistent unwanted thoughts, mental images, or urges that generate feelings of anxiety, disgust, or discomfort. They include fear of contamination, obsession with symmetry, and intrusive thoughts about religion, sex, and harm.
  • Compulsions are repeated actions or routines that occur in response to obsessions. They include excessive hand washing, cleaning, counting, ordering, hoarding, neutralising, seeking assurance, and checking things.

If you have OCD, the obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours (routines and repetitions) will likely affect your day-to-day living and thinking. OCD can make you feel very anxious, although some people describe it as mental discomfort or distress rather than anxiety.

According to the NHS, it's not clear what causes OCD. A number of different factors may play a part, including:

  • family history – you're more likely to develop OCD if a family member has it, possibly because of your genes
  • differences in the brain – some people with OCD have areas of unusually high activity in their brain or low levels of a chemical called serotonin
  • life events – OCD may be more common in people who have been bullied, abused or neglected, and it sometimes starts after an important life event, such as childbirth or a bereavement
  • personality – neat, meticulous, methodical people with high personal standards may be more likely to develop OCD, also people who are generally quite anxious or have a very strong sense of responsibility for themselves and others

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) | NHS
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) | MIND
Obsessive compulsive disorder | Wikipedia
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) | Rethink
OCD | Young Minds

OCT Action

What is OCD? | Psych Hub | 4m 49s
Debunking the myths of OCD - Natascha M. Santos | TED-Ed | 4m 50s

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