Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

OCD is an anxiety disorder where people have thoughts or images that make them feel anxious (obsessions) that make them feel like they have to carry out particular behaviours (compulsions) to reduce anxiety or prevent something bad happening.


Obsessions are thoughts or images that come into our minds and won’t go away, even if we find them distressing or abhorrent. Obsessions are often focused on three main themes: aggressive, sexual or blasphemous thoughts. Often these thoughts are completely at odds with the persons values and views of how they should be as a person. Other obsessions might be a preoccupation with whether or not they might have done something wrong.

Some people feel they need to make sure that things are done in exactly the right way. Some people might be worried about becoming contaminated with germs. Others might feel contaminated by contact with someone who they feel has betrayed or humiliated them. No two people with OCD will have exactly the same obsessions.



Talk to us about therapy for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) if you are registered with a GP in City and Hackney

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The obsessive thoughts described above may feel so distressing and unacceptable that people may feel an overwhelming need to do something to make things okay. These compulsions often have three aims: to reduce the likelihood that the things they are thinking will happen, to calm their anxiety down, and/or to ensure that if something bad does happen then at least they will have done everything in their power to prevent it.

These compulsions are often done repeatedly and in a very particular way. They may start to interfere with daily life. If the compulsions take up more than one hour a day then this might indicate OCD. The most common compulsions are:

  • Repeated checking, washing or cleaning things
  • Doing things in a specific ‘right’ order or ‘right’ way
  • Rituals such as tapping, touching or counting
  • Repeating particular phrases in your head
  • Doubting yourself, seeking reassurance and/or asking the same question over and over again (e.g. did I lock the door?)

What causes OCD?

The most effective treatment for OCD is a psychological therapy called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).CBT can help people with OCD to re-evaluate the meaning of their intrusive thoughts so that they no longer feel significant or cause anxiety. Changing the significance of intrusive thoughts can reduce the obsessions and the compulsive behaviour that follows the thoughts.

Need Urgent Help?

If you need urgent help and are worried that you can’t keep yourself safe, City and Hackney has a 24-hour Crisis helpline on 0800 073 0006 or you can get help at your local Accident and Emergency department.