Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a type of anxiety disorder involving two elements: obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are repetitive unwanted thoughts that make you feel anxious. Compulsions are repetitive behaviours and rituals.  OCD makes you feel as if you have to complete these rituals or behaviours, in fear of something bad will happen. Performing the compulsions can temporarily reduce the anxiety you feel with OCD in certain situations. You realise your thoughts are irrational, but the obsessions and compulsions are difficult to resist. OCD affects people from all different backgrounds, classes, cultures, sexes and intelligence levels. Approximately 2-3% of Australians experience OCD.

What Are the Symptoms of OCD?

With OCD you experience some obsessive thoughts, and a compulsion. The intensity and frequency can vary. It may be worse when you are particularly stressed (e.g exam time, relationship problems).

Examples of obsessions include:

  • fear of contamination or dirt
  • fear of harming yourself or others
  • intrusive sexual thoughts
  • fear of illness
  • religious or moral issues

Common compulsions may be:

  • cleaning or putting things in a particular order
  • washing
  • counting
  • hoarding
  • touching/repeating
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You may experience a range of emotions, including:

  • stressed or anxious
  • annoyed and frustrated
  • down or depressed
  • a sense of shame (and a wish to hide your OCD from others)

OCD may affect other parts of your life too. You might find you're not able to enjoy the things you normally would. You might feel more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol, as a way to escape or numb overwhelming feelings.

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