Quite often when disorders and illnesses are picked up and shared across mainstream media, an influx of diagnosis and awareness follows off the back of it.
This is the case with OCD.
OCD clinically known as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder has received some heightened interest following recent story lines in TV soap; Coronation Street.
The disorder is recognised as a debilitating disorder that affects around 1-2% of the population.
Worryingly, there is an approximate delay of 12 years from the onset of OCD to actually getting treatment.
There are a range of reasons why there is a delay in getting treatment including fear of the stigma related to mental health illnesses.
Many believe there is no help available.
The great news is, OCD can be successfully managed once diagnosed, just like most other mental health illnesses.
So what is OCD?
OCD is a disorder made up of 2 main features; obsessions and compulsions.
What are obsessions?
Obsessions are thoughts, doubts and urges that creep up involuntarily. They are often upsetting, distressing and difficult to control and/or get rid of.
Examples of obsessions include but are not limited to: being concerned with order, the arrangement of things, symmetry, fear of harming others or harming oneself, fears around dirt, illness and contamination.
What are compulsions?
In this context, compulsions are often motivated by the need to relieve the anxiety felt by the obsessions.
Compulsions can range from counting and repeating phrases through to observable actions such as excessive cleaning and washing up.
The distressing thing about compulsions is, they are repetitive and the person performing them feels forced to give in to them which ultimately leads to a stronger urge to repeat the compulsion next time round.
Whilst everyone can experience OCD type thoughts such as rushing back home to double check you switched the tap off, someone without OCD can dismiss the urge but those with OCD, would not be able to ignore them.
What causes OCD?
So far, research has been unable to come up with a cause of OCD but can surmise there is likely to be a genetic vulnerability to developing OCD.
Other factors such as being exposed to traumatic events or being susceptible to stress could play a part in the onset of OCD too.
Who is affected?
OCD can affect anyone including children and adolescents.
As a result an individual’s quality of life can be massively impacted so it is crucial a diagnosis is made and treatment can begin.