Obsessive compulsive disorder (or OCD) is a mental health condition that makes people repeat an action again and again or think about things over and over. This can make people feel very anxious and people with OCD are more likely to experience depression and low mood.
A person with OCD may feel compelled to carry out certain rituals or tasks (and so experience a compulsive need) so as to counteract a thought or feeling they have had or to help prevent something from happening in the future.
This can help to manage how they are feeling however, usually the compulsion changes or varies over time so that the original compulsion no longer works. For example, if you have the thought, ‘My house could get broken into’, you might make yourself feel better about going to bed at night by checking the door handle twice.
But over time this could change to checking the door handle three or more times AND asking a parent or someone else in the house if the door is locked. These repeated actions or ‘rituals’ help manage other feelings they experience.
People experiencing OCD not only experience compulsions but also a need to be reassured by friends or family members. This can be draining on the person experiencing OCD but also for the people in their lives.
People who experience OCD can also experience tunnel vision. This means that they find it difficult to focus on the big picture and often find themselves getting very anxious or worried about things other people may see as trivial but they find very important. For example, someone with OCD may find it vitally important to clean out and organise their closet but may not think about cleaning and organising the rest of the bedroom.
There are other elements to OCD that can have a negative impact on your life but you can get help and support to help manage them. It’s difficult to cope with OCD on your own, so speak to your GP or a mental health professional to find the right treatment for you.
Talking about your feelings with a parent, carer, a good friend or Childline can also help you feel better and less overwhelmed.
More information and support
- HSE Website: https://www2.hse.ie/conditions/mental-health/obsessive-compulsive-disorder/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd-symptoms.html
- St Patrick’s Hospital Dublin – https://www.stpatricks.ie/st-patricks-mental-health-services-enewsletter/march-2019/diagnosis-and-management-of-obsessive-compulsive-disorder-in-primary-care
- SpunOut – https://spunout.ie/mental-health/conditions/obsessive-compulsive-disorder
- YoungMinds – https://www.youngminds.org.uk/young-person/mental-health-conditions/ocd
- Willy & The Wobbly House by Margot Sunderland – A story to promote discussion with a child with anxieties &/or obsessions.
If you’re thinking about suicide or self-harm or if you need help right away, call 999 or 112
There are also specific support lines that you can call:
Samaritans Ireland – 116 123
Pieta House – 1800 247 247
Childline can also be contacted by any child or young person by calling 1800 66 66 66, texting to 50101 or chatting online at Childline.ie 24 hours a day, every day.