Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition which is a combination of obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours. The onset of the condition can vary from teenage years to early adulthood. The severity of the symptoms of OCD can vary between patients and the symptoms can also vary over time.
The condition is made up of three main elements. These are:
1. Obsessive thoughts - this can be often unpleasant words or phrases that however hard you try not to think about them they won't go away. Some patients experience unpleasant images in their mind while other obsessive thoughts might including having doubts and worries.
2. Anxiety - these unpleasant thoughts usually make you feel anxious, but they can also make you feel depressed, frightened or worried.
3. Compulsive behaviours - these could be rituals or checking things over and over again - these are actions that initially make you feel better but after a short while the thoughts return and the compulsion to carry out the behaviour also returns.
As with most mental health problems the causes are not clear - it will be a combination of reasons including genetics and stressful life events mixed with certain personality traits and ways of thinking.
The main treatments available for OCD are psychological therapies and medications.
Psychological therapies consist of a course of treatment - usually a type of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) with a therapist over a number of weeks or months. This can help you to manage obsessive thoughts and guides you to change the way you respond to these thoughts.
The medications available can help to reduce the obsessions and the compulsions but it can take several months to notice an effect. Usually you would expect to need to be on this treatment for at least 12 months.