Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

More about OCDWashing hands with soap

People with OCD usually know their thoughts and/or actions are not warranted (e.g. they know their hands are not dirty) but they still feel compelled to perform the rituals. This often makes them feel embarrassed and they may go to great lengths to hide their behaviours from family, friends and even doctors

The rituals can take up a large amount of time (more than 1 hour per day), causing considerable interference with a person’s life. Sufferers may also involve family members in performing the rituals.

It is common for people with OCD to avoid situations or places that trigger anxiety and compulsions (e.g. avoiding contact with contaminants). This adds to the problem as these people gradually avoid more and more situations and the problem comes to rule their lives. Constant avoidance prevents these people from learning that there is no danger, maintaining anxiety. There may be significant interference to daily routines, relationships, and/or occupational or educational functioning

Other conditions may be present, including other anxiety disorders, depression, eating disorders and Tourette’s Syndrome.

Who gets OCD?

Obsessions and compulsions usually develop in adolescence. Symptoms may develop due to genetic, personality and chemical influences, as well as stressful life events.

Approximately 2 in 100 people suffer from OCD, or 1.9% of Australian adults over a 12-month period. It affects men and women equally.
Page last updated 22-Dec-2009
Last Updated : 22-Sep-2013