You may have OCD and not even know it.

And the problem about not having a name for what is wrong is that you don't get help.

I see lots of people with OCD, obsessive compulsive disorder. On the telly, we get told that OCD is about obsessive cleaners. Or you might have heard it is about being fussy about tidiness

It is worse than that. Obsessive thoughts are repulsive and unrelenting, driving the sufferer to expend almost all their energy on getting rid of the thoughts. Unsuccessfuly. So the sufferer tries even harder. It can be all-consuming.

Here is a very helpful quiz to see if your worries might be OCD.

And it is a subtle bully. Sufferers are dreadfully anxious and worry all the time. They have no self-confidence, they don't feel safe. The lack of a diagnosis means it can be years before you can get treatment. But there is good and effective treatment available. Psychologists at the Maudsley Hospital in London have developed a special form of cognitive behavioural therapy in their OCD clinic. This is the approach that I use and it works well.

OCD often starts in early adulthood or around puberty.

If OCD is not about cleaning and tidiness, what is it then?

OCD can show up in lots of ways. Like these for example:

  • worries about dirt and contamination
  • worrying am I gay?
  • scared of going to new places because you don't know where the loos are
  • worrying sexual thoughts
  • fear of jumping off bridges
  • fear of being a danger to other people or yourself
  • fear of molesting children
  • fear of stabbing people
  • fear of being sick
  • health worries even where the doctor tells you that you are well
  • fear of running people over unintentionally and unknowingly
  • need to clean hands or things thoroughly and repeatedly
  • need to check all the doors are locked and the sockets switched off
  • need to say special words or do things in a particular order.

The list is almost endless. On the one hand you know you are safe, but on the other hand, what if this were true? It would be your fault, according to OCD. And if it were true, the outcome would be awful.

These horrible thoughts are normal. We all have thoughts a bit like this from time to time. We all can look at a knife and think I could stab that bloke with that knife, But for most of us, we let that thought go. If you have OCD these thoughts don't stop. And because the thoughts are hateful to you, you worry that deep inside you could be a depraved and dreadful person, so you feel shame and guilt along with the worry and anxiety.

If you worry about these things, it can be very reassuring to discover that this is OCD. OCD can be treated. There is specialist cognitive behavioural therapy that has been shown to be very effective. Professor Paul Salkovskis in particular has develope treatment approaches, which are still being developed at the Maudsley Hospital in London and elsewhere. I follow that same treatment approach. Don't suffer the misery of OCD. Get help now. Excellent books include Break Free from OCD, and for children What to do when you brain gets stuck.

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