This week (8th-14th October 2017) is International OCD Awareness Week, set up by the International OCD Foundation and championed in the UK by the national charities OCD UK and OCD Action.
Information on the week is available on the IOCDF website at https://iocdf.org/programs/ocdweek/.
OCD UK’s website is at http://www.ocduk.org/ and OCD Action’s at http://www.ocdaction.org.uk/ .
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental health disorder that affects people of all ages and walks of life, and occurs when a person gets caught in a cycle of obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are unwanted, intrusive thoughts, images or urges that trigger intensely distressing feelings. Compulsions are behaviours an individual engages in to attempt to get rid of the obsessions and/or decrease his or her distress. More information is available on the IOCDF’s website at https://iocdf.org/about-ocd/ .
OCD is a much misunderstood and misrepresented condition and the popular image of it being simply a desire for cleanliness, tidiness and/or order is a long way from the reality of this distressing anxiety disorder. In fact, my own misconceptions of OCD based on these ideas made me think my GP was barking when she first suggested that I might be suffering from it!
It’s important to realise that, in the context of OCD, obsessions and compulsions are time consuming and get in the way of important activities the person values. This last part is extremely important to keep in mind as it, in part, determines whether someone has OCD — a psychological disorder — rather than an obsessive personality trait. Obsessions are typically accompanied by intense and uncomfortable feelings such as fear, disgust, doubt, or a feeling that things have to be done in a way that is “just right.” Compulsions are the second part of obsessive compulsive disorder. These are repetitive behaviours or thoughts that a person uses with the intention of neutralizing, counteracting, or making their obsessions go away. People with OCD realize this is only a temporary solution but without a better way to cope they rely on the compulsion as a temporary escape. Compulsions can also include avoiding situations that trigger obsessions.
The IOCDF have a blog post on separating fact from fiction when it comes to what is, and isn’t, OCD: https://iocdf.org/blog/2017/10/03/help-seperate-ocd-myths-from-the-facts/