Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) results in a person experiencing distressing, unwanted and intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive behaviours (compulsions) which are time-consuming and functionally impairing.

Typically these thoughts may include :

fear of contamination

fear of taboo thoughts

need for order or symmetry

even fear of harming others.

Compulsions are the behavioural component, that are not pleasurable when done. They are usually in response to the obsessional thoughts and can often be ritualistic in nature.

This may involve:

repeatedly checking if the doors are locked

repetitive hand washing or cleaning

placing objects in a certain order

avoidance of certain triggers events.

OCD can develop at any age, including children. The condition is often associated with other psychiatric conditions such as depression and anxiety.

The diagnosis of OCD is based on clinical examination, including the impact of the condition on functioning. It involves ruling out other conditions which present similarly to OCD, with different treatment avenues.

Treatment of OCD can include psychological interventions such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), to help deal with the intrusive thoughts and minimising ritualistic behavioural responses.

Pharmacological treatments include antidepressants such as SSRIs or TCAs. They may be effective in symptomatic relief and functional improvement.

OCD is often significantly disabling and requires careful evaluation and treatment. Earlier treatment can result in better overall prognosis.

Guirish Radja