Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Posted: Apr 06 2022

There’s nothing wrong with double checking you’ve locked the front door or turned off the stove, but if you find yourself in an unwanted cycle of obsessions and compulsions around these sorts of actions, then you may be suffering from the anxiety condition of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

Ocd web image

Obsessions or compulsions are when you feel a need to act to alleviate distress or neutralise a thought. Although carrying out these activities may bring short term relief, it is not long until these behaviours can become debilitating.

What are the symptoms of OCD:

OCD involves two main types of symptoms. These are obsessions and compulsions. You may experience both, or you may experience one or the other. The symptoms can affect your ability to concentrate on other things and even if you realise your obsessive thoughts aren't true, or know your compulsive behaviour is not helping, you still feel compelled to complete them.

Some common obsessions are:

  • concerns around germs, dirt or illness
  • fears of harming yourself or others
  • a need to have your possessions aligned, orderly or symmetrical
  • explicit violent or sexual thoughts
  • worries about throwing things away.

Some common compulsive behaviours are:

  • repeated washing of your hands, face or body
  • aligning objects in a specific way
  • counting or repeating specific phrases
  • touching something a set number of times
  • collecting, or buying multiples of the same item
  • hiding objects from yourself which could be used to harm.

If you think that you may be experiencing OCD, Beyond Blue’s OCD checklist may give you more insight.

When should I seek support from a professional?

If you’re experiencing OCD type behaviours that take up more than an hour each day and start interfering with daily tasks such as working, studying and even spending time with family or friends.

OCD symptoms often begin gradually, which means they may not be noticed until they become severe. For this reason, people frequently live with the condition for years before seeking help.

Around 90%1 of people suffering OCD also experience other mental health conditions.

Treatment options and strategies

Treatment for your OCD will depend on your exact circumstances and whether other mental health conditions are in play. However, generally speaking treatment will include psychotherapy and medication.

While the medication can often help to relive the symptoms, working with a therapist can help you learn tools to manage unwanted thoughts and to change unhelpful patterns or behaviour. You can also learn strategies to improve relaxation and cope with emotional distress.

Therapy approaches for OCD treatment include:

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
  • Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP)
  • Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy.

Online resources and support

Beyond BlueBeyond Blue has a wide range of resources to help people who are suffering from OCD.

International OCD Foundation

The mission of the International OCD Foundation is to help those affected by obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and related disorders live full and productive lives. The site has a range of resources available.
and Smiling Mind

Apps such as Headspace and Smiling Mind are excellent tools for guided meditations for all ages to learn mindfulness skills.

1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK553162/

Posted: Apr 06 2022


The information contained here is of a general nature and does not take into account your personal medical situation. The information is not a substitute for independent professional medical advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or used for therapeutic purposes. Should you require specific medical information, please seek advice from your healthcare practitioner. Health Partners does not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information provided. While we have prepared the information carefully, we can’t guarantee that it is accurate, complete or up-to-date. And while we may mention goods or services provided by others, we aren’t specifically endorsing them and can’t accept responsibility for them.

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