As someone who has had OCD for most of her life I believe that awareness and having an understanding of the illness are two of the most important factors in the fight against OCD. As a young child of 18 months I couldn't bare for my hands to be dirty and at school I had to make sure my writing looked perfect rather than making sure that the content was correct. My OCD did develop and become worse over the years but having an understanding of the illness most certainly helps. OCD UK is an amazing charity who are supportive and create awareness to combat stigma about mental health issues too.
OCD UK is a charity who are independently working with and for almost one million children and adults whose lives are affected by Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
Their vision is one of a society where everyone affected by Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder should receive the most appropriate, and the highest quality standards of care, support and treatment.
Understanding Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive–Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a serious anxiety-related condition where a person experiences frequent intrusive and unwelcome obsessional thoughts, often followed by repetitive compulsions, impulses or urges.
The illness affects as many as 12 in every 1000 people (1.2% of the population) from young children to adults, regardless of gender or social or cultural background. In fact, it can be so debilitating and disabling that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has actually ranked OCD in the top ten of the most disabling illnesses of any kind, in terms of lost earnings and diminished quality of life.
Based on current estimates for the UK population, there are potentially around 741,504 people living with OCD at any one time. But it is worth noting that a disproportionately high number, 50% of all these cases, will fall into the severe category, with less than a quarter being classed as mild cases.
OCD presents itself in many guises, and certainly goes far beyond the common perception that OCD is merely hand washing or checking light switches. In general, OCD sufferers experience obsessions which take the form of persistent and uncontrollable thoughts, images, impulses, worries, fears or doubts. They are often intrusive, unwanted, disturbing, significantly interfere with the ability to function on a day-to-day basis as they are incredibly difficult to ignore. People with OCD often realise that their obsessional thoughts are irrational, but they believe the only way to relieve the anxiety caused by them is to perform compulsive behaviours, often to prevent perceived harm happening to themselves or, more often than not, to a loved one.
Compulsions are repetitive physical behaviours and actions or mental thought rituals that are performed over and over again in an attempt to relieve the anxiety caused by the obsessional thoughts. Avoidance of places or situations to prevent triggering these obsessive thoughts is also considered to be a compulsion. But unfortunately, any relief that the compulsive behaviours provide is only temporary and short lived, and often reinforces the original obsession, creating a gradual worsening cycle of the OCD.
It has traditionally been considered that there are four main categories of OCD. Although there are numerous forms of the illness within each category, typically a person’s OCD will fall into one of the four main categories:
Contamination / Mental Contamination
Ruminations / Intrusive Thoughts
For many people with OCD there is often an overinflated sense of responsibility to prevent harm and an over-estimation about the perceived threat that an intrusive thought signifies. It is these factors that help drive the compulsive behaviours, because the person with OCD often feels ultimately responsible for trying to prevent bad things happening.
To find out more visit www.ocduk.org