Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

Obsessive compulsive disorder, more commonly known as OCD, is an anxiety disorder.

People experiencing OCD will have involuntary repetitive thoughts, feelings or images that can be very distressing for them. These are referred to as 'obsessions'.

As a way of attempting to get rid of the obsession, a person may then carry out a particular habit or ritual that helps them to temporarily feel better. These behaviours are referred to as compulsions. Unfortunately, the compulsions are not fully effective as the intrusive thoughts, feelings or images return, and a vicious cycle of obsessions and compulsions continues.

Common obsessions include worries about danger to yourself or others, contamination fears or worries about sexuality or religion. Rituals can be things like needing to repeatedly check things, repeated hand washing and cleaning, or mental rituals such as counting or repeatedly saying a prayer.

OCD can be mild but it can also be very severe and get in the way of a person’s day-to-day life. It is very important if you think you have OCD to talk to a someone you trust – you'll find advice about who to talk to and how to do it here. OCD can be very serious particularly if left for a long time, but it is treatable.

More information

For further information and help on OCD please see:

OCD UK - national charity run by and for people with lived experience of OCD

Young Minds - more about OCD and what to do if you're affected by the condition

MindEd - free educational resource that includes training on OCD