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Understanding OCD: symptoms, identification and support

Posted on Tuesday, 14 February 2023, in Anxiety & Stress, Treatments & Therapy

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Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, is a mental health condition that affects people of all ages and backgrounds. It is a type of anxiety disorder that causes persistent, unwanted thoughts or compulsions that interfere with daily life. OCD can manifest in many ways, but some common symptoms can help identify it.


Symptoms of OCD

OCD symptoms can include intrusive and persistent thoughts, images, or urges, often related to specific fears or worries. For example, someone with OCD may fear germs and feel compelled to wash their hands repeatedly or avoid touching particular objects. They may also need symmetry or order, which can result in repetitive behaviours such as arranging and rearranging items in a specific way.

Other common symptoms of OCD can include:

  • Hoarding
  • Excessive checking (such as repeatedly checking that doors are locked or appliances are turned off).
  • Mental rituals such as counting or repeating specific phrases to prevent harm.

These behaviours can be distressing and time-consuming and significantly impact a person's quality of life.

It's important to note that everyone experiences intrusive thoughts or behaviours from time to time, and having these thoughts does not necessarily mean someone has OCD. However, if these thoughts or behaviours become persistent and interfere with daily life, it may indicate OCD.


When to seek support for OCD

If you're concerned that you or a loved one may be experiencing symptoms of OCD, it's important to seek support from a qualified healthcare professional. This may include a GP or mental health specialist, who can assess symptoms, provide a diagnosis, and recommend appropriate treatment options.

Several evidence-based treatments are available for OCD, including cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) and medication. CBT involves working with a therapist to identify and challenge unhelpful thoughts and behaviours, while medication can help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression that may be associated with OCD.

Early intervention can lead to better outcomes. If you suspect that you or a loved one may be experiencing symptoms of OCD, seek support as soon as possible. In addition, support from loved ones can be beneficial for those with OCD, as it can provide emotional support and encouragement during treatment.

If you are concerned about a loved one who may be experiencing symptoms of OCD, there are several things you can do to offer support. One of the most important things is to listen without judgement and provide a safe and supportive space for them to talk about their experiences. You can also encourage them to seek professional support and offer to help them find a qualified healthcare professional or attend appointments with them.

OCD is treatable, and seeking support is a brave and vital step towards recovery. With the right support and treatment, many people with OCD can manage their symptoms and live fulfilling lives.