Mental health is often a topic of public discourse, but do we really know what we are talking about? Within this series (“Understanding the Mind”), I aim to provide readers with an insight about what mental illness is. To find out more and for an introduction about what this series aims to do, read this post. To read all the posts in this series, click here.
Today, I would like to talk about OCD – an anxiety disorder. Read more about what an anxiety disorder is here.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder which characterises itself through repetitive thoughts, creating a need to act on compulsions. These compulsions can include a wide array of activities: repeated cleaning, showering, washing hands, counting, arranging, checking door locks, refusal to touch other people or objects, and eating foods in a specific order.
It is estimated 1-3% of adults suffer with OCD, and around 5% of children and teenagers.
OCD can significantly interfere with your life, with compulsions restricting your actions and sometimes taking hours to complete.
What are the symptoms of OCD?
Typically, the most common symptoms of OCD to look out for are as followed:
- Having the need to performance tasks a set number of times
- Excessive need for reassurance
- A need to be precision, symmetry or order (for example, you may feel the need to ensure all the labels on the tins in your cupboard face the same way or that everything on your desk is straight and in align with one another)
- Fear of dirt or contamination
- Fear of making a mistake
- Fear of being embarrassed