Although OCD affects people in different ways, you will typically have frequent obsessive thoughts which lead to compulsive behaviours.
If you have OCD, you'll usually experience frequent obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours. This pattern has four main steps:
- Obsession – where an unwanted, intrusive and often distressing thought, image or urge repeatedly enters your mind.
- Anxiety – the obsession provokes a feeling of intense anxiety or distress.
- Compulsion – repetitive behaviours or mental acts that you feel driven to perform as a result of the anxiety and distress caused by the obsession.
- Temporary relief – the compulsive behaviour temporarily relieves the anxiety, but the obsession and anxiety soon returns, causing the cycle to begin again.
(Source: NHS Choices: Symptoms of OCD)
Although most people have a certain way to do things, if what you do takes up excessive amounts of time, causes distress and anguish or interferes with daily life (such as home life, work, school or social activities), then you should consider speaking to your GP to get some help or consider therapy to help bring this back under control.
Some typical behaviours in people with OCD can include:
- cleaning and hand washing
- checking – such as checking doors are locked or that the gas is off
- ordering and arranging
- asking for reassurance
- repeating words in their head
- thinking "neutralising" thoughts to counter the obsessive thoughts
- avoiding places and situations that could trigger obsessive thoughts