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  • Writer's pictureSFI Care Solutions

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: What is it and How Does it Manifest?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) isn’t about being more organised or orderly than others; it’s about having intrusive thoughts and compulsive behaviours that impair functioning. The disorder can be crippling, although is fairly common, affecting around three-quarters of a million people in the UK alone.

Here are some of the most common types of OCD behaviours, how they manifest, and how you can get support.

What Is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health disorder that affects people of all ages and from all socio-economic backgrounds. OCD is characterised by obsessions (recurrent, unwanted thoughts, impulses, or images) and/or compulsions (repetitive behaviours or mental acts that a person feels compelled to do in order to alleviate anxiety or distress). People with OCD often experience both obsessions and compulsions.

Symptoms of OCD

OCD manifests in different ways for different people, but there are some common symptoms. People with OCD might have obsessions they can't control, such as a fear of dirt or contamination, a need to keep things tidy, or intrusive thoughts about death or violence. To try to control these thoughts, they might perform certain behaviours over and over again (compulsions). These compulsions might be mental rituals like counting or repeating words in their head, or physical rituals like washing their hands or cleaning their house.

How to get help

If you think you might have OCD, you can self-refer through the NHS to a psychological therapies service, or speak to your GP and request a referral. For more support options and tips and advice, OCD UK has a wealth of information.

Treatment options

Effective treatments for OCD include treatments such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), which helps by looking at your fears and obsessions and ways to deal with them without using compulsions. Antidepressants, like SSRIs, can also be prescribed. They work by adjusting the balance of chemicals in your brain.

CBT tends to help quite quickly, whereas SSRIs can take a few months to start working. If appropriate, you may be referred to a specialist mental health service for more treatment.

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