Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
We all have occasional anxious thoughts, and it’s not uncommon to be preoccupied with something from time to time, but when these thoughts won’t go away and are accompanied by compulsive actions, it’s known as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). OCD, occurs when you have repeated unwanted thoughts (obsession), or feel that you absolutely have to do certain things (compulsion).
An obsession is when it’s hard to stop having an unwanted thought. Someone with OCD will focus intensely on a worry or thought and develop unhelpful patterns of behaviour around it (for example repeatedly checking that the oven is switched off). Common obsessions relate to cleanliness, keeping things in order, counting items, security or safety, religious issues or sexual actions.
A compulsion is an activity you feel you have to complete in order to ensure everything is okay. You may feel that you can only do things in a certain order, or that you have to clean your house repeatedly, count objects, or hoard certain items that have little or no value or purpose.
Clients with OCD may spend several hours every day focusing on obsessive thoughts, compelling them to repeatedly perform ritualistic behaviours and routines (compulsions) to try and ease the associated anxiety.