What is obsessive compulsive disorder?
All of us obsess about things from time to time – whether we left the iron on, or if we shut the door – but obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is much more serious.
OCD is an anxiety disorder which causes people to experience obsessive thoughts followed by compulsive behaviours. Obsessions are frequent intrusive, unwanted thoughts which cause anxiety, disgust or unease. Compulsions are activities carried out repetitively in an attempt to temporarily relieve the distressing feelings of the obsessive thoughts.
For some people with OCD, obsessions and compulsions may occupy an hour a day, but for others it can become so severe that it takes over - preventing them from living a normal life, holding them captive, and potentially damaging their health, relationships, education or employment.
Treatment for OCD has improved and has a good chance of relieving and controlling obsessions, or preventing the condition from getting worse. Treatments are generally either cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), medication such as a type of antidepressant called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), or a mixture of the two.
Finding the causes of OCD
Dr Susanne Ahmari is investigating brain circuits involved in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).More about this project