Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Understanding OCD
Consequences of OCD

What is obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a condition that occurs when someone enters a cycle of obsessive thoughts, and compulsions.

Obsessions are repetitive and persistent thoughts, images or impulses/urges that are intrusive, unwanted and are commonly associated with anxiety.

Compulsions are repetitive behaviours including repetitive mental acts that the individual feels proven to perform in response to an obsession, according to rigid “rules” or to achieve a sense of “completeness”.

How common is obsessive-compulsive disorder?

In the UK, around 820,000 people, or 1.2% of the population are affected by OCD. In the USA, 2.5 million people, or 1.2% of the population are affected by OCD.

What are the risk factors for obsessive-compulsive disorder?

Research has shown that genetic factors increase the risk of developing OCD. A person is at higher risk of developing OCD if they have a first-degree relative who developed OCD as a child or teenager.
In some cases, children may develop OCD, or OCD symptoms after a streptococcal infection. This is known as PANDAS (Paediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal infections). PANDAS OCD is different from other childhood forms of OCD because it starts suddenly, and can be quite severe.OCD is slightly more common in women than in men.

Which age groups have the greatest risk of obsessive-compulsive disorder?

OCD can occur at any age.
OCD can appear between the ages of 8 and 12, but also commonly presents during someone’s teenage years and early adulthood.

OCD was once ranked by the World Health Organization in the top 10 of the most disabling illnesses by lost income and decreased quality of life

What are the signs and symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder?

Common obsessions in OCD can have themes about:

Being afraid of harming others
Excessive concerns about morality
Taboo thoughts about sex or religion

Comment compulsions in OCD include:

Washing and cleaning
Repeating tasks or actions
Mental compulsions such as counting
Being responsible for something terrible happening

Can obsessive-compulsive disorder be treated?

Yes, OCD symptoms can improve with the appropriate treatment.

Can obsessive-compulsive disorder be treated without medication?

It is possible manage OCD without medications.

On average, a person with OCD loses 3 years of income over their lifetime

What are my treatment options if I have obsessive-compulsive disorder?

The most effective treatments for OCD are:

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP)

Medications, such as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), or Clomipramine which is a Tricyclic antidepressant

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)

It is important to work closely with your health care provider to put together a treatment plan tailored to your individual needs, and appropriate for the nature and severity of your OCD.

The World Health Organization list anxiety disorders, including OCD, as the sixth largest contributor to non-fatal health loss globally

What are the consequences of untreated obsessive-compulsive disorder?

Untreated OCD is associated with disruption to a person’s education and employment, because it is a condition that can takeup several hours of a person’s time.
People with OCD report a loss of confidence, embarrassment and a reduction in their overall quality of life.
OCD is often associated with anger, isolation and depression.
Untreated OCD is also associated with an increased risk of self-medicating with alcohol.

What are the physical health consequences of obsessive-compulsive disorder?
OCD can result in:

Shame often prevents people with OCD seeking help and causes delays in effective treatment