Obsessive compulsive disorder

OCD stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It is a type of anxiety related disorder.


A young person with OCD may have distressing thoughts.  They respond to these thoughts by doing certain things to try and make things better or stop a bad thing from happening.  These patterns of thinking and behaviour can cause major problems for a young person and their family, making it difficult to go to school or even leave the house. 


The signs of OCD are split into three parts.

1. Obsessions – are unwanted thoughts that keep repeating and won’t stop.  These thoughts make you feel anxious.

Typical obsessions include:

  • fear that you may get a disease or a fear of germs
  • fear that something bad may happen to you or the people you care about
  • having constant doubts about yourself and insisting that things are done in a certain way.


2.  Anxiety – You may feel anxious, tearful, depressed, worried, guilty and feel a sense of responsibility.


3.  Compulsions are the things (sometimes called rituals) that people believe they have to do to feel less anxious or guilty as a result of the obsessive thoughts.


Typical compulsions include:

  • washing or cleaning e.g. washing your hands over and over again
  • checking e.g. checking doors are locked
  • repeating e.g. having to touch a door handle a number of times before being able to open it
  • counting e.g. counting steps 
  • arranging things in a certain way
  • you may try to make up for the bad thoughts you are having by having good thoughts, or saying prayers and repeating a special word over and over again.


People with OCD know that their thoughts and feelings are irrational but believe the only way to reduce the anxiety is to carry out the rituals.  Around one in 50 people experience OCD.  It may be quite mild or it may be quite serious and stop you getting on with things in everyday life.  It is a serious condition but also very treatable so if you think you could have OCD it is important to talk to someone to get help.


If you would like to know more about OCD and the help you can get you might find these websites useful: