Obsessive compulsive disorder
People with obsessive compulsive disorder experience repeated, unwanted and unpleasant thoughts, or feel driven to carry out certain actions over and over again.
Typical thoughts (or obsessions) can include being very afraid of dirt and “getting contaminated”, fears for other people’s safety, or sometimes unwanted sexual or religious thoughts. Typical actions (or compulsions) can include washing your hands over and over, cleaning and housework, counting or arranging things, or behaviour based on superstitious fears (for instance touching an object constantly or only wearing certain colours).
People with obsessive compulsive disorder know that these thoughts and actions are irrational, but they often have little control over them. Someone with OCD can have a few or many of these signs, and they can vary during the course of the disorder. People with OCD often have intense feelings of anxiety, and they can become demoralised or depressed.
It’s estimated that up to 3 people in every hundred are affected by OCD. There are very effective ways to help people who have OCD – often through “behaviour therapy” which teaches people special techniques to deal with situations which make them anxious.