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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Individuals with OCD experience recurrent and persistent thoughts, images or impulses that are intrusive and unwanted (obsessions). In addition, individuals with OCD  engage in repetitive and ritualistic thoughts or actions that are excessive, time-consuming and distressing (compulsions). Usually, individuals with OCD realise  the obsessions and compulsions are irrational and excessive, but feel they are  not able to control the obsessions or stop the compulsive behaviours.

Some Examples Common Obsessions:

  • fear of contamination from germs, dirt, or toxins

  • fear of illness, accidents or death that may happen to oneself or to significant others. Often the individual will also feel responsible for preventing this harm.

  • intrusive thoughts and images about sex, violence, accidents or other situations

  • excessive concern with exactness and orderliness

  • excessive concern about morality or religion

Compulsions can be behavioural (actions) or mental (thoughts). Compulsions are usually performed to try and prevent an obsessive fear from taking place, to control the anxiety the obsessive thought creates, or to make things feel ‘just right’.

Some Examples of common compulsions: 

  • excessive hand washing, showering and tooth brushing, or cleaning

  • excessive checking of locks, electrical and gas appliances, taps and other items associated with safety

  • repeating over and over routine actions such as reading, writing, walking, opening or closing a door, stepping on an object

  • mentally repeating words or numbers a specific number of times, or concentrating only on  ‘safe’ numbers

  • rigid rules and patterns of positioning objects (e.g., toys, furniture, books, clothes, pegs)

  • touching, tapping or moving in a particular way or a certain number of times - repetitively

  • needing to constantly ask questions in order to seek reassurance

  • confessing frequently in order to seek reassurance

  • effortfully trying to replace bad thoughts with good thoughts 


Treatment for OCD can include:

  • psychoeducation

  • cognitive behaviour therapy

  • exposure therapy (with response prevention)

  • anxiety management technique

  • medication

Clothes hanging out on a clothes line to
Image by Kristine Wook
Image by CDC
Obsessive compulsive disorder, man tryin
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