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Obsessive compulsive disorder 

Introduction 

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Diana Wilson talks about how Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) affected her, how she has dealt with it, and the support available to people with OCD.

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a chronic (long-term) mental health condition that is usually associated with obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviour.

Obsessions and compulsions

An obsession is an unwanted, unpleasant thought, image or urge that repeatedly enters a person’s mind and results in anxiety. A compulsion is a repetitive behaviour or mental act that a person feels compelled to perform to try to avert or undo the effect of the obsession.

Unlike the normal use of the word ‘obsession’, which may describe something that an individual enjoys, the obsession in OCD is unpleasant and frightening. The person feels the need to carry out their compulsion in order to prevent their obsession becoming true. For example, someone who is obsessively scared that they will catch a disease may feel compelled to have a shower every time they use a toilet.

How common is OCD?

OCD is one of the most common mental health conditions. It is estimated that up to 3 in 100 adults and up to 5 in 100 children and teenagers have OCD.

OCD usually starts in early adult life, with men tending to report earlier symptoms than women. However, OCD symptoms can begin at any time, including childhood.

The symptoms of OCD can range from mild to severe. For example, some people with OCD will spend about an hour a day engaged in obsessive compulsive thinking and behaviour. For others, the condition can completely take over their life.

The causes of OCD are unknown, although there are several theories. For more information, see OCD - causes

Outlook

If you have OCD, seeking help is the most important thing you can do. Left untreated, the symptoms of OCD may not improve. In some cases they will get worse. Without treatment, nearly half of people with OCD still have symptoms 30 years later.

With treatment, the outlook for OCD is good. Some people will achieve a complete cure. Even if a complete cure is not achievable, treatment can reduce the severity of your symptoms and help you to achieve a good quality of life.

A form of psychotherapy, known as cognitive behavioural therapy, which includes graded exposure and response prevention, is a proven treatment with a high rate of success in OCD. This may also be combined with medication, such as antidepressants.

About 80% of people with OCD will respond to initial treatment. See OCD - treatment for more information.

Last reviewed: 06/12/2010

Next review due: 06/12/2012

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jennyk1977 said on 04 February 2011

I have picked my nails into the quick since five years old it is a terrible habit & is this why? It would explain a lot I also sometimes scratch ankles till they bleed.

It has effected every area of my life for obvious reasons & I would like just to have normal nails like everyone else any advice or treatment & yes I'm pretty sure I have OCD can you please help me out!

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rachaelscotty said on 23 January 2011

I reallywant to know if i have ocd but om not sure but i do have mental health in my family. Im not sure when it started but it must have been after the age of 10. I have theses patterns i hace to repeat and i feeel something bad will happen if i dont do them. For example i have to say this pattern before i go to sleep 'touch wood my nan wont die'(repeat 3 times) 'touch wood i wont die'(rrepeat 3 times) 'touch wood jim wont die' (repeat 3 times) theses are people i knoe obvisously but i must say this with my eyes shut and if i slightly open them i have to start the repetition again. I also have to do a lot of things in 3's no way in 2's another example i have to cover the light switch with finger 3 times before switching it off. These patterns are really time consuming and annoying can i have some advice please

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Skyx said on 19 November 2010

moses84 I thought the doctors would think I was crazy aswell, I didn't tell anyone about it for a long time, but the more you sweep it under the rug, the worser it gets cause you can't get any better unless you help yourself. I didn't tell my mum till about 2 months ago, It was really hard because she didn't know about OCD or that I had it, I was really imbarassed but she told me I'm not crazy and that loads of people have it in one way or another and it's nothing to be ashamed of. Remember, the doctors aren't going to start laughing at you or think your crazy, their job is to help people with physical or mental problems, they won't judge you, And once you tell them they can help you and you will be happier. I know it's hard to tell your GP, but remember, they are there to help!

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Delenas Teardrops said on 29 October 2010

I am 12 years old and OCD runs in my family. I have never been to a doctor but my mum is certain i have it. When i am on my comuter everything i write must be corrected such as capital letters, spellings. Everything on my side of the room has to be symmetrical and free of dust. i must carry anti-bacterial gel everywhere i go and if i dont have it i will go home or buy new ones. I have to brush my teeth for a certain amount of time. I count my steps and have to stop on an even number. My writing has to be perfect and straight. This does not particulary affect my life but i cant not do these things and they may take up lots of my time.

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ilovemykids said on 13 August 2010

I have been a sufferer of OCD since the loss of my Dad when i was in my teenage years,which affected me really badly i have had two nervous breakdowns and since then have had OCD all my life i am now 34yrs of age. I have a lovely and very supportive family but its a continuous struggle. I am on anti- depesenants and will probably never come off them. Most of the time i can control it but if i am anxious it can trigger i know my thoughts will stop and are not really me as its everything i am against. I was relieved that it is a recognised illness and i am not going mad. I dont like my close family seeing me like this but its so hard to deal with it on your own.Reading other people who are also feeling the same is help towards myself feeling better and hopefully others.

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graceex said on 28 February 2010

Hi, i'm 16 and i have never been to a doctor about any of this before, and OCD does run in my family, my mother and sister have it.
When i was little if i touched something, i would have to touch it in the exact same way with the other hand or foot or whatever, and i would repeat this process until i was completely satisfied that i had done it perfectly. I would also incessantly count my steps and i could never stop until i was in a completely different situation. Now, i obsess over a lot of things, for example, if there is something that even remotely worries me, it will nag at my mind incessantly until it is resolved, even things that dont concern me, or are not worth worrying about. I also get extremely anxious and obsessive over planning days out, for example, if i am going out with friends i have to take control over the train times and organise everyone so that i know i have complete control over every aspect so that i dont get anxious, i also have to plan exactly what i will at what exact time, because other wise i get very anxious and on edge. I also collect and hoard things wih little or no value, because i feel that i have an emotional link to them or something, i hoard thing such as old old magazines, makeup, pieces of paper, plasters, anything, and i simply cannot throw them away out of the fear that i will lose a sentimental link. I also get extremely anxious with some relationships with friends or boys, for example, i have a good friend at school, and i went to her house once, and the closeness of it made me feel extremely anxious and out of my comfort zone, that i tried to involuntarily close off all contact with her, like some sort of mental barrier, i also get it if i go out on a date with a boy, no matter how much i like them, i get extremely anxious and need to escape from the situation. I also get extremely obsessive before i leave the house, eg. i check my bag to ensure i have everything i need several times.
I hope that someone can help me!

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graceex said on 28 February 2010

I'm 16 and i've never been to a doctor or phychiatrist about any of my symptoms in fear that i am overreating of being a hypochondirac., and these feelings are starting to worry me.
When i was younger, if i touched something, i would have to touch it in the exact same way with the other hand or foot or whatever, and if i felt that i didn't copy the movement exactly i would repeat it until i was satisfied, i would also incessantly count my steps and i wouldnt be able to stop. I also have sort of mental diasgreements (?) where i imagine/think of a scenario, but i want to change something in it, and i fight with my mind to change it and it's quite crazy. i feel urges to keep useless, pointless things such as pieces of paper, old makeup, old magazines, absolutely anything, because i feel like i have some sort of emotional connection to it. and if i ever go out, i obsess over everything from train times, to organising and planning the day with exact times and activities, and if i don't, or things don't go to plan, it makes me feel extremely anxious. I also have some sort of crazily irrational fear of some relationships, for example, i have a really close friend at school, and i went to her house once, and the closeness of it made me want to block off our friendship as if it was a threat to me or something. and with boys, i feel that i like them, but if i go out with someone on a date, no matter how much i like them, it get awful feelings of extreme sickness and anxiety which makes me not eat, until i stop seeing them, again it's like a mental block that tries to stop all close contact. However, i am absolutely fine with most of my other friends so it baffles me.
I hope someone can help me!!!!

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moses84 said on 25 February 2010

I have had what i think is ocd since i was about 13 i am now 25 i have not bein diagnosed as i have never been to the doctors and are a bit apprehensive about going as i thought people would think i was crazy. at an early age when it first started it would be a case of grindin my teeth and the thought of me not doing it rite made me do it more but i got past that then it started gettin worse as i got into my 20's where i would hear a sound and repeat it in my head but somes times if it didnt sound like what i heard i would keep repeating it till it sounded rite it has lately got worse where i constantly am doing it and its starting to take over my life i am unemployed and my motivation to look for a job has gone and i am scared if i get 1 my ocd will effect this i constantly feel tired and agitated is there any help or information you would suggest thanks.

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moses84 said on 25 February 2010

I have had what i think is ocd since i was about 13 i am now 25 i have not bein diagnosed as i have never been to the doctors and are a bit apprehensive about going as i thought people would think i was crazy. at an early age when it first started it would be a case of grindin my teeth and the thought of me not doing it rite made me do it more but i got past that then it started gettin worse as i got into my 20's where i would hear a sound and repeat it in my head but somes times if it didnt sound like what i heard i would keep repeating it till it sounded rite it has lately got worse where i constantly am doing it and its starting to take over my life i am unemployed and my motivation to look for a job has gone and i am scared if i get 1 my ocd will effect this i constantly feel tired and agitated is there any help or information you would suggest thanks.

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moses84 said on 25 February 2010

I have had what i think is ocd since i was about 13 i am now 25 i have not bein diagnosed as i have never been to the doctors and are a bit apprehensive about going as i thought people would think i was crazy. at an early age when it first started it would be a case of grindin my teeth and the thought of me not doing it rite made me do it more but i got past that then it started gettin worse as i got into my 20's where i would hear a sound and repeat it in my head but somes times if it didnt sound like what i heard i would keep repeating it till it sounded rite it has lately got worse where i constantly am doing it and its starting to take over my life i am unemployed and my motivation to look for a job has gone and i am scared if i get 1 my ocd will effect this i constantly feel tired and agitated is there any help or information you would suggest thanks.

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braggo said on 06 February 2010

Understanding my mental health conditions has made me realise how, as a child I'd experience child hood anxiety and continuouly feeling unhappy, about friendships, myself and family. I remember being stressed and anxious and would suffer with mouth sores, due to the worrying. Those feelings went away untl about eight years ago and I began to experience depression, bouts of anxiety and following 20 years of binge drinking frequent hallucinatios of seeing spiders and first thought consistent with alcoholics, but continue to this day, and appear periodically, as will smelling smoke, when there's nothing present and ocassionally hearing voices, but dissimiliar to those urging me carry out obsessive & compulsive tasks, like checking. The OCD has been present the past 8 years and has progressively worsened. I experience repetitive thinking and excessive doubting and disbelieve my own judgement, but also doubt the opinion and question others motives, making me suspious and mistrusting of them. I became upset when a health worker became opinated of me and described me, as being very pessimistic. I remember crying uncontrollably because the sort of people who you'd expect to understand. I could have forgiven her misunderstanding, but using my volatile behaviour against me, critise and misjudge the way I am.
I opted out of conventional treatments and walked away from local mental health service providers, as its too upsetting and my mental health won't permit me to trust them. The person I trust with my mental healthcare was taken from me and the centre manager's decided I'd out grown the service, but officially they couldn't help me anymore? I use complementary & alternate methods of self care and Rethink are promoting the idea of sufferers beginning a support group, as therapy. I've begun an OCD support group for sufferers in Wolverhampton, called Reach Out. Contact: smattox@virginmedia.com

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Artistresearcher said on 17 November 2009

Hi,
I am a newly qualified teacher of Art and am on the Artist Teacher M A course at Liverpool John Moores University.

I have been effected by OCD for most of my life and have read a lot about it so have decided to make it the subject of my art work.

I have a blog where I put all my ideas and art works in progress. I would like people to share their stories on my blog to contribute to the ideas in my art work:

http://artistresearcher.wordpress.com/

Thanks

Ruth

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shamous said on 18 September 2009

hi every one i have had ocd for my whole life when i was younger i had it under controll untill latley i have been stressed alot and i have the obbsesion where i have to bring up the same things over and over again. I am just so happy that i have a girl thats suports me through it all when we first started dating there was no real sign of me having ocd but as it went i get more jelous and i asked more questions it has got to the stage where i made her upset, and that just really breaks my heart to think i have done that to someone that i love more then anything on this earth
it has been really good to discover this site and i am currently undergoing treatment for it i just hope to god it works i want to be the guy that the lady that i love with all my heart has the guy back that she fell in love with the happy guy thanks even if no one reads this it makes it better to just type it in kinda like talking aloud
thanks for you time.SO EVERYONE KNOE U ARE NOT ALONE OR DIFFRENT.

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shamous said on 17 September 2009

Hi everyone i have had ocd for 20 years i had it under controll untill latley i have been stressed out alot and it has come into play alot more i have trouble controlling it. i mainly have an obsesion with what people are thinking and how i treat othere witch is never bad just some time i feel that i could treat them better also i also have realised that having ocd makes me very jelous even when i try not to be i always do something to stuff everything up i have a very understanding girlfriend and i wanted to get some things off my chest and not have to give it all to her to carry around without her i would not be as good as i am today i also have a problem count things and always second guessing myself untill i got on here and i see that i am not the only one having trouble controlling it i would just like to say that this is a helpful site thanks. to who ever made it .

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jess4 said on 31 August 2009

Hi I have lived with ocd for over 15 years and was very afraid to go to the doctors in case they thought I was going mad.I have been taking anti depressant 's to help with my obsessive thoughts , they help me keep on top of my condition.
I found by relaxing through my thoughts rather than fighting them helps me deal with my illness. I also keep positive and remember the good things about myself as you can feel it is all your fault which is not the case.I have been on the waiting list for CBT for over 2 years (NHS CWM Taf ) which makes me VERY angry .I am very lucky I have a wonderful family who support me. Please remember it is an illnes and we all deserve to get better.

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ann0580 said on 31 August 2009

hi i am a OCD sufferer,i have lived withOCD for many years and felt very much alone,but reading the above comment i know i am not alone. my OCD is im afried off contracting HIV/AIDS and the fear of germs. i have to do many rituals throughout the day and a jobs that would take someone 3 min would take me 10 min at a time i wash my hands all the time and its on my mind all day every day and i dont get a break,and the worst thing about it is that 2 years after i i got OCD i found out that my brother had got HIV and it stops me from having contact with my brother which makes me very unhappy.also i feel for my partner and my doughter, has to watch me and sometime help me carry out my rituals throughout the day and i wish that they did not have to do so. i was so glad that i have found this site and all the information will hopfully help me and hope that alot more people will come forward with there comments.

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Laurey said on 27 August 2009

I am a long time sufferer of OCD and I think that sites like this are very good at raising awareness of the illness. I suffered in silence for years because I thought that I was crazy and was too scared to tell anybody. When I first read about the symptoms of OCD in particular the intrusive thougths I was overwhelmed with releif that this was a real illness, it wasn't just me. I think the more people know about this condition the better, I think that knowing about it would encourage alot more people who need help to seek it.

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