Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is a type of anxiety difficulty which is often shortened to ‘OCD’. It has two main features: obsessions and compulsions

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Obsessions are unwelcome thoughts, images, urges or doubts that repeatedly appear in your mind and interrupt your regular thoughts. They can feel quite real, be quite frightening and leave you feeling anxious eg thinking that you have been contaminated by germs, or experiencing a sudden urge to hurt someone.

Compulsions are repetitive activities that you feel you have to do. This could be something like repeatedly washing your hands or checking something, it could also saying a phrase a certain number of times or until it ‘feels right’ to stop. These behaviours are usually carried out to prevent something bad happening, sometimes we might know what this is (e.g. getting contaminated or a loved one getting hurt) but sometimes we don’t. Compulsions soothe the anxiety caused by the obsessions. However, the process of repeating these compulsions is often distressing and any relief is often short-lived.

Top tips to help with OCD symptoms

  • Talk to someone: Many people with OCD experience shame and loneliness and try to keep things secret. It is important not to bottle things up though, so try to talk to someone.
  • Understanding: Sometimes other people can get frustrated with people with OCD because it gets in the way of life e.g. the compulsions take time, which makes the family late for things. Try and learn about OCD together.
  • Tune into your thoughts: Spotting unhelpful thoughts can help to challenge OCD.
  • Test yourself: If you feel able to, with support, you can start to find times when you are able to cope with places that you may usually avoid or reduce/stop compulsions. These steps are important in moving forward from OCD. Face that fear!
  • Relaxation: OCD is considered to be an anxiety condition, so the thought of trying some strategies to overcome OCD may increase some of your anxieties in the short-term. That’s why it’s important to know how to relax.
  • Professional help: If OCD is really getting in the way of life, you may need extra support from someone trained to help – this might include talking or behaviour therapy.

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