OCD - Obsessive Compulsive Disorder - isn’t just about hand washing!! It involves distressing, bizarre or scary thoughts which won’t go away until you’ve carried out certain behaviours. There is another way; it’s quite common and is easily treated

What is OCD?

OCD stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It’s a type of anxiety disorder where people carry out repetitive actions (compulsions) to reduce the anxiety caused by unwanted thoughts (obsessions). 

Whats normal and what's OCD?

Have you ever had to go back and check you’d locked the door or switched the cooker off? That’s all pretty normal, but if you’re checking these 5 or 10 times you might find that this starts to interfere with your life. OCD comes in many forms and it’s not just about checking or cleaning a lot. You might have OCD if you have thoughts or rituals that:

  • Intrude, dominate, or take over everyday living
  • Won’t go away
  • Must be completed no matter how long it takes
  • Stop you functioning normally

It doesn’t mean that you are going mad or may do something terrible, but it is very distressing if you have OCD. The good news is that it is very common and can be easily treated.

 “My OCD intrudes on my life when I’m trying to do my prayers. I’m interrupted by random obscenities which pop into my head, blaspheme or appalling thoughts and images. It’s very shameful but I know it’s because I have OCD, it’s not that I actually think those things."

Mo, 21 years

Help Steps

  1. Step 1: Talk to someone you trust

    This could be your best mate, parents, boyfriend, girlfriend or tutor. You might think they won’t understand but everyone will have felt anxious about something so hopefully they can relate to this.

    Talking it over is important for lots of reasons:

    • it can be a weight off your mind to say it out loud;
    • you will need their support if you are struggling;
    • someone just being there can help you relax and feel less isolated;
    • they can offer reassurance that things will get better;
    • they can motivate you when you can’t motivate yourself;
    • they can help you find help or help you with practical things like booking appointments.

    We really recommend talking to someone but if you feel you can’t talk to someone you know then the Samaritans offer confidential advice and support and can be contacted on 08457 90 90 90.

  2. Step 2: Self-help

    Self-help therapies are a range of techniques you can apply yourself to help cope with stress and anxiety. These work for many people and can be done alongside any other therapy you may be having.

    Self-help could include completing exercises that you read, watch, listen to or complete online, it could be using relaxation training or it could be attending support groups. Have a look at our resources for OCD and anxiety.

  3. Step 3: Finding professional help and support

    OCD isn’t something you should have to tackle alone.

    Contact your GP for a referral to an appropriate service; this may be counselling, short-term psychological therapy or medication. There are also lots of local and national support networks that your GP will be able to put you in touch with.

    Have a look at what works for treating OCD and see our Interactive Map for local help in Birmingham.

  4. Step 4: National Contacts
    • OCD Action exists to provide information, advice and support for people with OCD Tel: 0845 390 6232 Email: support@ocdaction.org.uk
    • OCD UK a leading national charity, independently working with and for people with OCD.  Tel: 0845 120 3778 (Calls free from BT landlines) or  Email: support@ocduk.org
    • No Panic supports sufferers of panic attacks, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder and generalised anxiety disorder. Phone helpline and counselling, drop-in centres, CBT self help books, videos and tapes. Helpline: 0800 138 8889. For details about recovery courses or literature call: 01952680460 or Email: ceo@nopanic.org.uk
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