Everything You Need to Know About Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder(OCD)

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What is OCD?

OCD is a long-term mental health illness characterised by compulsive behaviours, obsessions, or both.

OCD sufferers frequently have obsessions, which are overwhelming urges to repeat particular behaviours due to recurrent, unpleasant thoughts. To assist them in getting rid of the intrusive notion, they then act out that impulse or compulsion.

Many individuals check to make sure they’ve switched off the cooker or closed the front door. Superstitions like wearing your team’s shirt during games or banging on wood are also fairly frequent. Although these behaviours may give you a sense of security, they do not always point to OCD.

These customs aren’t something that OCD sufferers choose to engage in on a personal level. Instead, they make life more difficult and disruptive. Many OCD sufferers acknowledge that the ideas and convictions causing their compulsions are irrational or at the very least extremely implausible.



Obsessions and compulsions are the two primary symptom categories associated with OCD. Obsessions and compulsions are common among OCD sufferers, while some only exhibit one or the other.

These are not only short or temporary symptoms. Even less severe symptoms might interfere with your daily activities and require up to an hour each day.

Compulsions or obsessions may interfere with your ability to focus in class or finish responsibilities at work. They could even prevent you from leaving the house to go to work or school.

You may come to the realisation that the compulsive behaviours won’t truly stop the obsessive thoughts, or that the compulsive notions aren’t genuine. However, they frequently feel out of control still.


Though the subject of obsessive thoughts can vary greatly, some frequent ones are as follows:

  • concerns about sickness, filth, or germs
  • anxieties of hurting oneself or others
  • apprehensions of saying anything crude or inappropriate
  • a desire for your belongings to be symmetrical, organised, or aligned
  • explicit ideas of violence or sex
  • concerns about trashing stuff
  • Concerning yourself or your loved ones’ health and safety; 
  • doubting your sexual urges or orientation; 
  • experiencing intrusive noises, words, or pictures

Ignoring or suppressing these undesirable and intrusive thoughts won’t stop them from returning. If you don’t take anything to stop them, their mere persistence might make you believe that they are genuine or that they might come true even more.


Among the compulsive behaviours associated with OCD are:

  • cleaning your body, hands, or items
  • arranging or positioning items in a particular manner
  • counting or saying certain words aloud
  • putting a certain amount of touch to something
  • looking on other people for comfort
  • gathering certain items or purchasing multiples of the same item
  •  concealing items that you may use to injure someone else or yourself
  •  reviewing your activities to ensure that no one else has been harmed

Compulsions can be thought of as an obsession’s reaction. When an obsession emerges, you may feel pressured to act to prevent the obsessive notion from coming true or to ease the tension and suffering it produces.

You may find that you need to carry out these steps a certain number of times, or until everything seems to be “just right.” You may believe that the ritual won’t work if you make a mistake during it and that you must start again and do it flawlessly.

Why does OCD occur?

Although the precise causation of OCD is unknown, a family history of the disorder may be a significant contributing factor. Your chances of developing OCD are increased if you have a close relative who suffers from the disorder.

The National Institute of Mental Health states that the disorder has also been connected to abnormal development and dysfunction in certain brain regions. There is evidence to suggest that OCD may be somewhat related to serotonin reuptake in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a variety of vital roles in your body, including regulating mood and sleep.

Factors at Risk for OCD

In addition to your genetic predisposition, there are additional variables that might raise your risk of having OCD.

These consist of:

Trauma or stress: Excessive stress at work, school, home, or in relationships can exacerbate pre-existing symptoms of OCD or increase the likelihood that you will acquire it.

Individuality: OCD may be influenced by certain personality qualities, such as perfectionism, elevated feelings of responsibility, or trouble with ambiguity. Whether they are more adaptable learning responses that can be altered or if they are genuinely fixed features is up for discussion.

Childhood abuse: The illness is more likely to occur in children who have been the victims of abuse or other traumatic childhood experiences, such as severe neglect or bullying.

Acute neuropsychiatric symptoms in children (CANS): Some youngsters experience an abrupt onset of OCD following an illness. This illness is called PANDAS, or paediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric diseases associated with streptococcus, following a streptococcal infection: However, symptoms can also be caused by other illnesses or infections.

Brain damage by trauma: A 2021 study found that after a brain injury, OCD symptoms may initially manifest.

But remember that you can never have OCD yourself even if you have a family history of the disorder and other risk factors. Furthermore, OCD can occur in persons who do not have any established risk factors.

OCD frequently coexists with additional mental health issues, such as:

  • ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
  • The Tourette Syndrome
  • serious depression in individuals
  • Anxiety-related disorders
  • eating problems

As a matter of fact, anxiety disorders account for the majority of mental health disorders, with OCD sufferers having them in roughly 90% of cases. Nevertheless, being diagnosed with any of these disorders does not guarantee that you will develop OCD.


Finding a therapist with experience with OCD is an excellent place to start when looking into potential treatments.

OCD is usually treated with a combination of medication and psychotherapy.


Counsellors in mental health usually suggest therapy as one component of a multimodal treatment plan.

Although medication can frequently aid with discomfort relief, seeing a therapist can also teach you:

  • instruments to control undesirable thoughts and alter detrimental behavioural patterns
  • techniques to increase calmness and manage emotional discomfort

Treatment approaches suggested for OCD comprise:

Therapy based on cognitive behaviour (CBT): CBT can assist you in recognising and reframing undesirable or negative thinking and behaviour patterns.

Response prevention and exposure (ERP): This kind of CBT exposes patients gradually to dreaded scenarios or worries that underlie obsessions or compulsive behaviours. ERP aims to teach people how to control their obsessions’ suffering without resorting to obsessive behaviours.

Cognition-based mindfulness treatment: This entails developing mindfulness techniques to deal with anxiety brought on by compulsive thoughts.

Types of OCD

Although there isn’t a set categorization for the many forms of OCD, professionals frequently divide the symptoms into a number of subtypes:

  • contaminants as well as cleaning
  • dread of injury and monitoring
  • Order, symmetry, and perfectionism
  • violent, sexual, or other forbidden ideas that are persistent
  • Gathering or storing

Your symptoms may mostly correspond with one of these subtypes, or they may fit into more than one. The fact that symptoms frequently defy easy categorization might contribute to the explanation of why these classifications are still unofficial.

Nor are they the only hypothesised subtypes of OCD. Other unrecognised OCD “types” consist of:

  • Obsessions and compulsions based on religious convictions are a feature of scrupulosity, often known as religious OCD. You may feel obligated to pray a specific number of times, count to a certain number, or touch many items in order to negate a thought that you believe to be blasphemous.
  • Relationship OCD is characterised by persistent uncertainties, queries, and bothersome thoughts regarding your partnership.
  • Pure O (obsession) is characterised by intrusive, aggressive, or sexual thoughts and obsessions without any discernible compulsions. Compulsions may still exist in Pure O; they may merely manifest as rituals in the mind as opposed to acts.

Having an OCD

Although there isn’t a cure for OCD, you may manage your symptoms and lessen or even completely eradicate their influence on your daily life with the aid of medical care and a variety of coping mechanisms.

Seeking assistance from a therapist with OCD treatment experience may significantly reduce stress and enhance your overall quality of life.

It is frequently feasible to acquire new techniques for managing OCD symptoms and challenging undesired thought patterns with the help of a specialist. Additionally, therapists can provide advice on other beneficial coping mechanisms, such as:

  • respiration techniques
  • strategies for awareness and meditation
  • establishing a self-care regimen
  • Speaking with close people

Speaking with the people in your life about OCD may be challenging, but you are under no need to disclose your diagnosis until you are comfortable doing so. However, isolating oneself almost always makes things worse.

In addition to making it simpler to obtain any other kind of support you might require, reaching out to family, friends, and other loved ones can also help you receive emotional support, which can ultimately enhance your general well-being.

Making friends with others who can relate to your situation is another excellent approach to connect with OCD support groups.

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