OCD is not your fault
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition where a person has obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviour.
An obsession is an unwanted, unpleasant thought, image or urge that repeatedly enters a person’s mind, causing them anxiety.
The word “obsession” usually describes something enjoyable but in OCD the obsession is unpleasant and frightening.
A compulsion is a repetitive behaviour or mental act that someone feels they need to carry out to try to prevent an obsession coming true. For example, someone who is obsessively scared they will catch a disease may feel the need to have a shower every time they use a toilet.
OCD symptoms can range from mild to severe. For example, some people may spend an hour or so a day engaged in obsessive-compulsive thinking and behaviour. For others, the condition can completely take over their life.
Although OCD affects individuals differently, most people with the condition fall into a set pattern of thought and behaviour. The pattern has four main steps:
Obsession – your mind is overwhelmed by a constant obsessive fear or concern, such as the fear your house will be burgled.
Anxiety – this obsession provokes a feeling of intense anxiety and distress.
Compulsion – you adopt a pattern of compulsive behaviour to reduce your anxiety and distress, such as checking all your windows and doors are locked at least three times before leaving the house.
Temporary relief – the compulsive behaviour brings temporary relief from anxiety but the obsession and anxiety soon return, causing the cycle to begin again.
People with OCD are often reluctant to report their symptoms to their GP because they feel ashamed or embarrassed. They may also try to disguise their symptoms from family and friends.
However, there is nothing to feel ashamed or embarrassed about. OCD is a long-term health condition like diabetes or asthma and it is not your fault you have it.