What is obsessive compulsive disorder?
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder where a person experiences obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours. These thoughts and behaviours can be time-consuming and may interfere with your daily life.
Obsessive thoughts are unwelcome and uncontrollable thoughts, images, worries, doubts, or urges that occur in the mind and cause feelings of anxiety and stress.
Compulsive behaviours are repetitive actions or activities that you then undertake to help relieve the anxieties caused by obsessive thoughts. This relief may not last long, thus encouraging you to carry out the compulsion over and over.
Some people may experience minor obsessions and compulsions, but these are usually short lived and pass with time. Obsessive compulsive disorder is more impactful and long term, significantly affecting your ability to conduct everyday tasks and responsibilities. Carrying out compulsive behaviours can take up a lot of time and energy, leaving you unable to work or socialise in severe instances. You may also feel like you have to hide your condition from others, which can then make you feel isolated and stressed.
Obsessive compulsive disorder can affect anyone of any age and background. National charity OCD-UK estimates that around 750,000 people within the UK are living with the condition at any one time. Research also shows that 1.2% of the UK population will be affected by OCD in their lifetime.
There are some common stereotypes and misconceptions that surround obsessive compulsive disorder, and it’s important to note how this can impact on the wellbeing of people living with the condition. Some people may make the occasional cliche comment about being “a bit OCD,” or even reduce the condition to simple issues surrounding cleanliness and order. This can be isolating and frustrating for people who live with the very real, often serious consequences of OCD on a daily basis.
Read more from MIND on how to reduce stigma surrounding OCD and other mental health conditions.