Dumfries & Galloway Health & Social Care

Understanding Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Behaviours for Professionals

OCD is a type of anxiety-related mental health difficulty.

OCD, has two parts: Obsessions and Compulsions. 

Obsessions are unwanted thoughts which pop into our minds without any warning. People often feel like these thoughts are out with their control, and sometimes to help them feel more in control they do certain behaviours (compulsions) to help. Obsessions can be very upsetting for the person and they can find it really difficult to take their mind off of them. There are lots of different types of obsessions people might experience. Here are some examples:

  • Lots of worries about germs or disease, such as fearing you might of been contaminated after touching a certain object
  • Fears about whether you have or haven’t locked the door, turned switches off, or turned the cooker off
  • Fears you might attack someone, even though you really don’t want to do this
  • Fears something terrible will happen if you do not colour coordinate your things
  • A strong feeling that someone you love will get hurt if you do things a certain number of times

Compulsions are the things people do to cope with these thoughts. They sometimes feel like the only way to get rid of their obsessions, or unwanted thoughts, is to do these behaviours. Here are some examples:

Repeated hand washing:

  • Having to check switches multiple times
  • Needing to put things in order
  • Having to repeat certain words or phrases over and over
  • Needing to do things a certain number of times
  • Asking others for lots of reassurance
  • Avoiding situations which set off unwanted thoughts

In the media, OCD is often shown as a need to be clean and tidy – however it is MORE than this. In order for obsessions and compulsions to be OCD, these problems need to be having a BIG impact on a person’s day-to-day life. It needs to be causing them a lot of distress, taking up a lot of their time (up to 1 hour or more a day), and getting in the way of how they want to live their life.

When to refer to CAMHS?

OCD is one of the more complex anxiety-related mental health difficulties.

If you feel like the problems are having a significant impact on the young person’s day-to-day life and are causing extreme distress for the young person, and are very time consuming (taking up to 1 hour or more per day), a referral could be appropriate.

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