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Conditions

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

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Both Charles Darwin and Florence Nightingale were thought to have it whilst the likes of David Beckham, Paul Gascoigne and Billy Bob Thornton have talked openly about their struggles with the condition. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, is a mental health disorder which can take over a person’s life. The main traits of OCD are; predictably, obsessions and compulsions that cause anxiety to a person which in turn often manifest themselves in the form of repeated actions. For example, someone with an obsession with cleanliness may become anxious at the thought of germs. Therefore they may find themselves washing their hands frequently – often until their skin is raw and sore, or constantly cleaning their house, even though they know that they have killed the germs on the first wash. Whilst this is a common experience amongst OCD sufferers, symptoms can vary greatly between people. Some may become fixated with a certain number and therefore find themselves chewing every mouthful of food or combing their hair exactly that number of times. Some may hoard things and hate throwing things away, whilst others might have a serious compulsion to avoid stepping on the cracks in the pavement.

However, it should be noted that it’s perfectly common and normal for us all to have daily routines and habits; some people will like certain things done in a certain way, some people will like things to be a little tidier than normal or might clean a little more often than most, but what distinguishes OCD is its severity. OCD has the power to take over someone’s life. Whilst there is very little research into the condition there are some effective treatments available. Some doctors may prescribe various medications, but a talking based cure called cognitive behavior therapy has proved particularly successful for some people in undoing the obsession and helping them learn to stop it, but every case is individual and these things can take a long time – there is normally a waiting list for such treatment too.

More information on OCD can be found through the following links:

Young Minds
Mind
NICE
OCD Action
OCD UK
No Panic
Anxiety Care
Mental Health Foundation

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What the Men in White Coats Say

Comments and Questions

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I'm almost certain I have ocd. In some cases, I'm quite ashamed but I don't mind telling people about it. I think I inherited it from my mother - she's so neat and tidy and was brought up in a clean environment too. I hate germs, I hate the thought of them being on me and around me. I always carry hand sanitizer and mouth wash on me because of all the mouth particles which may come into contact with me. Everything has to be in order, from house cleaning to what I'm wearing. My 2 socks have to be the same otherwise I get frustrated and I change my socks. I wash my hands frequently & wear gloves so that everything I touch isn't on my skin exactly, shower twice a day, change my shoes every 2 days and change my clothes every day. I could go on but one question I need to ask is, when I go to the doctors and say everything I said now and more, how will he/she know I'm not mentally insane and put me in a hospital? I'm not mentally insane, I just like clean organised things. Thank you





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I don't know what's wrong but it's become an annoying habit which I can't seem to pull away from. I check everything over and over again, for example before going to bed I have to make sure all doors are locked I constantly pull the handles up and down making sure it's locked. I turn the lights on and off to make sure they are off as well as starring and the plug switches and gas knobs making sure they're all off! If we put the heat on I go round checking to see if anything is touching the radiators. I stare and wave my hand under sink taps double checking all taps and showers are off! If things aren't done in a certain way like my daily checking routine eg checking gas cooker first, checking doors, checking taps etc I have to do it all again. I know there's a problem but never think I will be able to overcome this.





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I have a strange side affect from my ocd when something is out of place I have a mental breakdown what should I do?





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I think I have OCD but just can't admit it.My parents think I have it too.I need to know where everything is all of the time that's not normal is it?Everything has it's place and if it's not in its place I go crazy.i been seriously ill in the past and I am suffering from post traumatic stress maybe this is just all part of PTSD???please help





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I have had o c d 4 many years now its getting worse and worse.im 51 and have no friends or life at all.when its any of my gratenieces or nephews bdays they always have a family tea party I always say im ill so cant go,b b q I say the same just because im always 2 busy cleaning and tidying up.iv been 2 the doctors hes said I have o c d.i tend 2 do a lot of things in 3s 3 things on the washing line,3 pegs on each piece of clothing,wipe the lines 3 times be4 hanging the washing out,mop the floors 3 times can you tell me why its in 3s plz.no 1 comes 2 my house now becoz I dont let any 1 in its 2 much hard work 4 me when they leave I have 2 wash all the leather settees again that I would have already done twice that day,steam mop the floor where they've walked.its talking over my life and I hate it please help me x





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I did the test just because i felt like doing it and never imagined i might have more than a touch. I was quite surprised by the questions because most refer to the way i think. I always knew that had a few problems but didn't realize i had it so severely because by the looks of it i have had this as long as i remember. I feel like an attention seeker talking about it ,even here and find the thought of talking to a doctor pointless because i can't bare the thought of getting attention and medication scares me because of what it will do to me....also suffered painful arthritis for years and can't bring myself to see the dr for the same reasons. The way i think is my life and i don't know who i would be without it so don't see how i can change. I don't know what to do. I suppose would be nice to not be constantly watching where people put their germ covered hands and not have to not buy things i know others have breathed on or to be a control freak about things in my life, to eat veg i've grown myself instead of being paranoid someone had contaminated it ( i joked with people i couldn't eat my babies that i'd grown from seed....don't know why i thought that sounded less weird than the truth) or to even have a cup of coffee or food made by someone else without me having to watch them make it....thats just a small number of things lol....can life really be made less stressful?





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First of all, I know how you feel. Well, probably not exactly how you feel, but you know what I mean :) anyway, I have severe OCD and I've taken medication since 3rd grade. I noticed in your comment that you said "medication scares me because of what it will do to me." I can personally say my medication (lexapro) has no negative side effects that I've noticed. It may be different for everyone, but that particular medication works wonders for me. Also, about the "attention seeking" issue- don't be embarrassed or ashamed! It's not attention seeking to try to fix a medical problem. It's kind of like having cancer and refusing treatment because you think it's bad or seeking attention. Granted OCD isn't life-threatening, but it does lower the quality of life. Please please see a psychiatrist if you suspect you have it! Seeing a doctor really helped me get it under control. I still have rituals and issues, but they are far less than I originally had. If you still don't want to see a doctor, I would recommend buying some therapy books. There are a lot of them available for OCD, and I still have a couple that I used. Best of luck to you!

I hope I don't sound silly asking these questions my head is doing overtime I have to go into hospital tomorrow and with my OCD it's about dirt and cleanliness and I'm going in to have a camera down my throat I will not wear the gowns as I know everyone else has worn them will they refuse to see me ? Another question is in planning to have my first baby in the fire but again can't bare the thought of me or my baby being washed in their facilities and wearing their gowns would it be negotiable with a midwife I wouldn't even want to sit on bed sheets where other people have been especially if they have being bleeding I can't bare the thought I know they get washed but that's still not hygienic in my eyes I really hope Simone can help and answer this for me





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I am scaired off diying when I am older so





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Hi I have OCD and it is taking over my life, i wash my hands like 50 times in a day and i use hand sanitize at school, i can't eat with my hands, i can't go to sleepovers and a lot of other things what shall i do





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If our brains are wired differently then I may have inherited my mum's OCD in the womb which would have meant I've had it 80 years! Even as a baby it seems I could never bear to be sticky or dirty, unless that was my mother's own imagination. Certainly from an early age I kept everything neat and orderly. We were both afraid of dirt, germs and public toilets almost phobic in fact. However her standards of cleanliness around the house I found unattainable when I tried to help. I was ashamed that I never did anything right. I had well meaning parents but only recently realised that it can be as damaging to be made to feel bad about oneself as to receive cruelty or neglect. I was disciplined by disapproval and have felt guilty all my life. Things took a disastrous turn when my mother became seriously ill in my early teens and I became responsible for running the home. I felt as though I let both parents down - even in part responsible for her death. Dad and I didn't get along very well and couldn't support one another. I have often thought since that I was at a difficult age - too old to be mothered but too young to be mother and there was no outside support at that time. It seemed to stop me in my tracks. I just couldn't handle it. I don't think I wanted to grow up and get married and be responsible for husband and children in sickness and in health. It seemed that everyone else was just pretending and did the 'right' and 'grown up' thing. I delayed as long as I could then fell in love and gave up my own life to the hell of marriage and housekeeping. I regressed from day one. Fifty years ago, when I first received treatment from psychiatrists they seemed like gods. They recognised my problem but insisted it was a symptom rather then a cause of my depression that had set in by then. They just wouldn't listen when I 'kept on coming back' to my mother's illness and death and my struggle to keep up standards at home. They said I was 'trying it on' and just refused to believe me. Later my husband was told it was my way of trying to control him. "Don't let her get away with it. When she finds it doesn't get her her own way, she'll soon stop." If only I could! It was all devastating on top of everything else. Well I've been widowed for over 20 years now and have hidden myself away for decades. At long last I have had some excellent CBT and although I've a long way to go with my OCD, I no longer blame myself and have been released from the hell that life has been. The reason for this long comment is to say that it is never too late to get help, so if there are any old people reading this, even those with a diagnosis of untreatable personality disorder (in fact an impossible patient), I would say be brave seek help. Things have changed. I am so very very grateful to my GP and brilliant therapist and hope God will grant me a few more years of peace, which I never felt was deserved or would happen.





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I have had ocd for 23yrs and it has now developed into anorexia. I fel like i "need" to exercise everyday for at least 3 hours constant cv!!! my body is so weak bt the "need" to do it out weights that. My ocd symptoms are based around food i am scared omeone has put somting into my food (drugs) that will make me lose control so i dont eat out of certai supermarkets or any foods tha contain acids e additives or a ingredients that i havent heard of and i wont ea fods that are not from this countryso you can understand how limited my diet is i dont starve myself and i still eat chrisps full fat butter etc so i found it weird when a consultant told me i had a eating disorder!!! anyway i have tried the priory phycologists phyhiatrists etc but nothing has helped and i cant take any medication as this is a hugh part f my illness... Im down to 5 stone 13pouds and dont know where its going to end im 38 years old with 21year old son help

What a terrible situation for you. This is a serious illness so please, please keep trying to get the right help. Don't give up. If one psychologist/psychiatrist can't help you, keep trying till you find one who can. I'm sure your rational mind knows your fears are unfounded but feelings are so much stronger than thoughts, something the professionals don't always seem to recognise. You can be released from this I'm sure. What does your GP say? You really can't be left to suffer like this!


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Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a chronic mental health condition that is usually associated with both obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviour.  Read More »

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