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Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

People who suffer from OCD experience highly distressing thoughts or images.  These thoughts are intrusive, repetitive and highly distressing.  These thoughts or images are termed obsessions.  Obsessions are often accompanied by an overwhelming need to perform repetitive behaviours or rituals in order to prevent some dreaded event from occurring or to prevent the distressing feelings that come with obsessions.  These behaviours or rituals are called compulsions. People with OCD may worry (or obsess) about all sorts of things, for example, germs, illness, or getting things “just right,” and they may spend an excessive amount of time washing, checking, or seeking reassurance from parents.  OCD can start in children who are very young.  Fortunately, with appropriate help, OCD is highly treatable.


Some examples of obsessions that people may experience include

  • Fears of contamination by germs, disease, or chemicals
  • Discomfort until it feels “just right”
  • Doubting
  • Fears of causing harm to loved ones or to themselves
  • Intrusive scary images, words, or songs
  • A need to do things a certain way, or to arrange things “just so”
  • Thoughts of aggressive incidents or actions


Some examples of compulsions that people may experience include

  • Repeated washing or cleaning
  • Repeated checking things
  • Seeking reassurance
  • Rereading or rewriting words
  • Repeating words or phrases in a certain way
  • Night rituals that take a long time and cause distress
  • Arranging things until it “feels right”
  • Touching or tapping things a certain way or repeatedly
  • Neutralising actions such as imagining good things happening