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So what really is OCD?

Ever heard someone say nonchalantly ‘It’s just my OCD’ as if it is part of their character trait or simply a personality quirk? Do people really understand what it means?

OCD stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and is a type of anxiety disorder. People living with OCD experience repetitive intrusive and often distressing, unwanted thoughts, images or impulses and engage in repetitive behaviours or rituals in order to attempt to relieve their distress. The symptoms and features of OCD can vary greatly from person to person. The incidence of clinically significant OCD in Australia is around 1-2%.These obsessive or compulsive thoughts and behaviours often appear in childhood or adolescence.

People with OCD are usually aware that their obsessive or compulsive thoughts and/or behaviours are not rational and are excessive but can find them uncontrollable and difficult to resist. Only a small percentage of people with OCD think that their intrusive thoughts and behaviours are accurate.

Common themes of OCD experienced include people having obsessions and compulsions to clean, arrange and check things for fear that something bad might happen if they don’t undertake these behaviours/rituals. People can also have fears about harming others or if they touch certain things they may contract a disease and spread to others.

People living with OCD can often feel like they are held hostage by their own mind with the obsessions and compulsions taking many hours a day. Left untreated, OCD can affect a person’s life in regards to their family, relationships and social life, employment and leisure activities.

People living with OCD also have a higher risk of having another mental illness such as depression bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder and schizophrenia.

The causes of OCD are not fully understood but are likely to be a combination of biological/genetic and lifestyle factors.

If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of OCD, it’s important to consult a doctor or mental health professional such as a psychologist. Treatments for OCD can help people manage their obsessions and compulsions by reducing or eliminating them.

If you or someone you know needs support with OCD please email or call us on 0433 905 239.