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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

What is it?

Obsessions are ‘thoughts’ that recur despite every effort to ignore or confront them. Some obsessions concern the possibility that someone or something other than oneself—such as God, the Devil, or disease—will harm you or another person that you care about . Other obsessions are as simple as ‘Have I locked the door’ and then checking. OCD can lead to uncertainty regarding as to whether one might act on the troubling thoughts, resulting in self criticism or self loathing, though people with OCD do generally understand that their notions do not correspond with reality.

How do you know that you have got it?

Young people who suffer OCD can usually recognize that their obsessions and compulsions are irrational, but may become further distressed by this realization. Despite the irrational behaviour, OCD can be associated with above-average intelligence.

How common is OCD?

OCD is the fourth most common mental disorder and is suffered by about 1 in every 50 people. In 80% of cases, symptoms present before the age of 18 so that it affects children and adolescents as well as grown ups. OCD affects boys and girls equally and appears to occur in many different cultures.

What causes OCD?

It is generally agreed that psychological, biological and social factors play a role in causing the disorder, although how each of these factors plays a part is not known.

Can it be treated?

Yes - behavioral therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and medications are regarded as the main treatments to be used in OCD and have been shown to be effective.