Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common form of anxiety disorder involving distressing, repetitive thoughts. That makes OCD particularly difficult to make sense of or to explain to other people.

Obsessions are distressing or frightening repetitive thoughts which come into your mind automatically, however irrational they may seem and however much you try to resist or ignore them. Some people describe these thoughts as being like a ‘stuck record’, but trying to stop them can make them worse.
Compulsions are actions which people feel they must repeat to feel less anxious or stop their obsessive thoughts. For example, some people cannot stop thinking about germs and the diseases they could catch. To cope with this anxiety, they may start washing their hands over and over again. Other compulsive rituals may have no connection to the nature of the obsessive thoughts.

Common obsessions include:

  • fear of contamination
  • fear of causing harm to someone else
  • fear of behaving unacceptably
  • need for symmetry or exactness.

Useful Guidance:

Listen to this podcast on someone else’s experience of OCD: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/podcasts-and-videos/oh-im-so-ocd-challenging-myths-around-obsessive-compulsive-disorder

Further advice: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/your-mental-health/getting-help