Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common mental health condition in which a person has obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours.
It affects men, women and children and can develop at any age. Some people develop the condition early, often around puberty, but it typically develops during early adulthood.
OCD can be distressing and significantly interfere with your life, but treatment can help you keep it under control.
This page covers:
If you have OCD, you'll usually experience frequent obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours.
For example, someone with an obsessive fear of their house being burgled may feel they need to check all the windows and doors are locked several times before they can leave the house.
Read more about the symptoms of OCD.
People with OCD are often reluctant to seek help because they feel ashamed or embarrassed.
But there's nothing to feel ashamed or embarrassed about. It's a health condition like any other – it doesn't mean you're "mad" and it's not your fault you have it.
There are two main ways to get help:
If you think a friend or family member may have OCD, try talking to them about your concerns and suggest they seek help.
OCD is unlikely to get better without proper treatment and support.
There are some effective treatments for OCD that can help reduce the impact the condition has on your life.
The main treatments are:
CBT will usually have an effect quite quickly. It can take several months before you notice the effects of treatment with SSRIs, but most people will eventually benefit.
If these treatments don't help, you may be offered an alternative SSRI or given a combination of an SSRI and CBT. Some people may be referred to a specialist mental health service for further treatment.
Read more about how OCD is treated.
It's not clear exactly what causes OCD. A number of different factors may play a role in the condition.
Living with OCD can be difficult. In addition to getting medical help, you might find it helps to contact a support group or other people with OCD for information and advice.
The following sites may be useful sources of support:
OCD Action, OCD-UK and TOP UK can also let you know about any local support groups in your area.