Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – known as OCD – is a type of anxiety disorder, consisting of two main parts; obsessions and compulsions.
Obsessions are intrusions in the form of thoughts, urges and images that appear repeatedly in the mind, making the person feel anxious. Compulsions are as a result of the obsession, where the person repeats actions and activities in an attempt to reduce the anxiety caused by the obsession.
There are many different forms of OCD which can affect anyone and can impact on any thought, fear, or worry. These intrusive thoughts will often be fixated around a subject that is important or holds great meaning to a person, often making them question areas of their life, such as their sexuality, their relationships and their feelings.
Signs of OCD
Examples of obsessions might include:
- Thinking something bad will happen if they don’t count to a certain number
- Worrying that things must be kept tidy
- Worrying about germs
- Worrying that if they don’t say something specific to a certain person, something bad will happen
Examples of compulsions might include:
- Repeatedly checking that the front door is locked before leaving for the day
- Washing their hands over and over again
- Counting or repeating words in their head
- Arranging and then rearranging items in a set order
People with OCD will often try to stop themselves from carrying out their obsessions and/or compulsions; however this usually results in feelings of frustration or further worry and anxiety due to the obsession or compulsion not being carried out. Many young people with OCD will find that their home life, school life and friendships are affected, which can cause further anxiety, worrying and upset.
It is not uncommon for young people to experience mild obsessions and compulsions at some point whilst growing up, but this is usually due to stress or changes at home, school, with family or friends.
How can I help?
- Reading information about OCD will help you to understand the condition in more detail and will help you to understand how your child is feeling. It may also help you to identify why they have developed the condition – is there something stressful happening at home or school, has there been a big change in their life?
- You could speak to a GP to find out more information and how best to talk to your child.
- Speak to your child and encourage them to open up to you about how they are feeling, the thoughts they are having and the routines they feel they need to complete. Reassure them that you will try to work through their feelings together.
- Suggest that when they feel ready, you could speak to a GP together or a counsellor at school.
- Encourage them to share their feelings with their friends so that they understand how your child is feeling and can offer support at school.
Real Life Experience
If you’d like to share your real life experience of supporting a young person with OCD, please email [email protected]