Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety-related condition that affects as many as three in a hundred people. Sufferers often go undiagnosed for many years, partially because of a lack of understanding of the condition, and partially because of intense feelings of embarrassment, guilt and sometimes even shame.

OCD can take many forms, but, in general, sufferers experience repetitive, intrusive and unwelcome thoughts, images, impulses and doubts which they find hard to ignore. These thoughts cause the person to perform repetitive compulsions in a vain attempt to relieve themselves of the obsessions and neutralise the fear.

Common obsessions include contamination and germs, causing harm to oneself or to others, upsetting sexual, violent or blasphemous thoughts, the ordering or arrangement of objects and worries about throwing things away.

Sufferers try to fight these thoughts with mental or physical rituals such as washing, cleaning, checking, counting, hoarding or partaking in endless rumination.

Most sufferers know that their thoughts and behaviour are irrational and senseless, but feel incapable of stopping them. This can have a significant impact on their confidence and self-esteem and as a result, their careers, relationships and lifestyles.