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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder


Many neurodevelopmental conditions can often exist together, but each can be treated in different ways.  The picture below illustrates how the conditions overlap.  Please use the drop down menu to view other conditions.

What Is OCD ?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or OCD for short, is a chronic (long-term) mental health condition that is usually associated with obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviour. It is regarded as a type of anxiety disorder.

What Are The Symptoms Of OCD ?

An obsession is an unwanted, intrusive thought, idea or image that repeatedly enters a person’s mind and results in anxiety. A compulsion is a repetitive behaviour or activity that a person feels compelled to do to try to reduce the anxiety from the obsession.

For example someone may constantly worry that they have been contaminated by dirt or germs (obsessive thought) and then repeatedly wash their hands or shower/wash (compulsive behaviour) to try to ‘put right’ the distress and relieve the anxiety.

Most people with OCD have both obsessions and compulsions but some only experience obsessive thoughts and others have compulsions without knowing why.

How Common Is OCD ?

OCD is one of the most common mental health conditions.

Minor compulsions and obsessions are common, for example many people go back to check they have locked the door or carry out minor rituals such as not stepping on cracks in the pavement but these do not interfere with daily life.

In OCD these compulsions and obsessions are so severe that they interfere with normal everyday life and are unpleasant and often frightening.  It is estimated that up to 3% of adults and up to 5% of children and teenagers have OCD.

OCD usually starts in early adult life before the age of 25, but may begin at any time, including childhood. Up to 30% of individuals with OCD may also have ADHD.

What Causes OCD ?

The causes of OCD are unknown, although there are several theories, some biological, such as low levels of serotonin in the brain and some psychological, such as a traumatic or stressful early experience which leads on to a learned behavioural response to anxiety over time.  Genetic factors may also play a part, but none of the theories so far explain OCD fully.

How Is OCD Managed ?

There are several treatments for OCD including psychotherapy (usually cognitive behavioural therapy. CBT), deep brain stimulation and medication. CBT is a proven treatment with a high success rate but individuals with OCD and ADHD may have trouble complying with the demands of therapy.  Antidepressants are the most common drugs prescribed for OCD.

Individuals with ADHD and OCD need to be monitored carefully as stimulant medication for ADHD may not be suitable for someone with OCD.


With treatment, the outlook for OCD is good. Some people achieve a full cure, for others the severity of symptoms is reduced sufficiently to improve quality of life.  Left untreated the symptoms of OCD may not improve and in some cases will get worse. Without treatment, nearly half of people with OCD still have symptoms 30 years later.

More Information

If you would like more information about any of our assessments or management options,

Please contact us on
info@lanc.uk.com or 01403 240002


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