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OCD (Obsessive compulsive disorder)

What is OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)

OCD has 3 parts:

  • obsessions – the thoughts that make you feel anxious or upset
  • the anxiety itself
  • compulsions – the things you do to help with the anxiety; rituals and repetitive behaviour

What does OCD look like?

Young people with OCD obsess about bad stuff happening, often to themselves or family and friends. They know they don’t like or want these thoughts, but feel the only way of dealing and coping with them is by repeating the compulsive behaviour.

You may feel the need to:

  • arrange things in a certain way
  • wash your hands over and over again
  • keep touching the same things
  • repeatedly checking you have turned off all electrical appliances in the house
  • say good things to make up for the bad things
  • say special things to cancel/balance out bad things

Sometimes these obsessional thoughts and rituals can cause such great distress they can stop people carrying out the activities they need to do every day, eg, a person is unable to go out due to the amount of times they have to check every electric item is switched off.

When does OCD happen?

No one really knows what causes OCD to happen, although there is lots of research and ideas, including how the brain works, stress being a trigger, and that there is often more one person in a family with OCD or anxiety problems. Everyone can have strange thoughts that pop into their heads and are able to ignore them and move on, but for some people it is not that easy.

How is it treated?

If you think you have OCD, you need to speak to your GP or school nurse, if you’re at school, and ask for help. They can refer you to a specialist who can help.

One of the main ways of treating OCD is through using Cognitive Behaviour therapy (CBT) which is a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave.

Top tips for helping yourself

Watch illustration Delay rituals-, if you find you have to do a ritual to reduce your anxiety try and delay it a little each time – waiting 1 minute, then 2 minutes etc before you do it.
Reduce rituals- if you find you have to do a ritual a number of times to reduce your anxiety.Try and reduce it each time, if you do it 10 times, try 9 times, then 8 times etc. until you feel more comfortable not doing it.
Person illustration Relaxation, take time to relax, if you are feeling anxious try practising relaxation exercises daily, they can help you learn how to relax and calm yourself. Try laying or sitting in a quiet distraction free room, closing your eyes and focussing on your breathing, try taking slow breaths, breathing in for a count of four and breathing out to the count of four.
Anxiety, no matter how bad, will eventually peak and then start to level off, going away on its own.

More helpful info

Young Minds have some more information about OCD and different types of help and treatments.

OCD UK are a charity that help to support young people to take control of their OCD and enable them to live a good life.

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