Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common mental health condition where an individual experiences obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours. The condition often causes people to have a tendency ‘towards excessive orderliness, perfectionism, and great attention to detail.’


Symptoms list:

  • Frequent obsessive thoughts which can include:

    • Fear of being contaminated by germs

    • Fear of losing or not having things you need

    • Excessive focus on religion/moral ideas

    • Fear of losing control or harming yourself or others

    • Constant need for order and symmetry


  • Compulsive behaviours which can include:

    • Excessive checking of things (locks, appliances, switches etc).

    • Counting, tapping, repeating certain words

    • Spending a lot of time washing/cleaning

    • Arranging or ordering things

    • Hoarding items

    • Excessively praying or engaging in rituals triggered by religious fear

Did you know?

It is estimated that OCD occurs in around 1.1% of the general population in the UK.

Supporting those with OCD

Avoid criticism

When a loved one is suffering with OCD, their behaviour patterns are their symptoms, not personal flaws. Making negative comments or criticizing the individual could in fact make their symptoms much worse. It’s important to avoid criticism and focus on a calm and positive approach to aid their recovery.

Patience is a virtue

The individual suffering with OCD will need to overcome the condition at a pace they are comfortable with. By being supportive and patient, you could help them as they heal. A top tip is to praise the person for any successful attempt to resist an OCD urge. Just by focusing the attention on the positive elements in your loved one's life can help their recovery come on leaps and bounds.

Assess the situation openly

Sit down with your loved one and agree how you can work together to tackle their symptoms. It is vital to support the individual and help them recover at their own pace. Try to keep your relationship with the individual as normal as possible and limit any high-stress situations that they could encounter.


Supporting yourself – how to cope with OCD

Write your thoughts down

A good way to better understand your triggers is to write your thoughts down when you begin to experience an obsessive and compulsive behaviour. Aim to keep a record of exactly what you are thinking when an OCD urge occurs. That way you’ll get a better idea of how often your obsessions occur and what makes them better or worse.

Seek support

You do not have to go through this alone, and you certainly should not have to suffer in silence. If you haven’t already, make sure you stay connected with friends and family to avoid letting your OCD symptoms consume your life to the point of isolation. When you feel ready, you can explore the option of joining an OCD support group or visiting your GP for professional advice.

Evaluate your lifestyle choices and make changes

Evaluate your lifestyle choices by keeping an eye on your food intake and exercise regime. It’s really important to maintain a healthy diet, but also to ensure you are eating regularly. Minor tweaks can have a really positive impact on your mood, helping to control your OCD urges. Our top two tweaks are to start your day with a healthy, fulfilling breakfast and limit your caffeine intake. And don’t forget to keep active. Sport can put you ‘in the moment’, relieving you from the chains of OCD.


If the symptoms of OCD are interfering with your daily life to a debilitating degree, you may wish to contact your GP for professional support.


If you need help coping with OCD, our one-to-one Support Workers can play a vital part in assisting you through the OCD impulses that prevent you from leading a normal life. You can find out more about the services provided by our friendly Independent Living West Country team here.

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