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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) can present when a young person experiences a lot unwanted and distressing thoughts or pictures that feel out of control (obsessions), which cause them to feel really anxious. In order to try and get rid of the thoughts, pictures and anxiety, they engage in rituals aimed at stopping anything bad happening to themselves or loved ones (compulsions).
Unwanted obsessional thoughts and images can be around danger, dirt and contamination, sexuality and religion and reflect the total opposite of what they really believe. For example, someone who is really close to their parents and is very caring could experience thoughts and images around harming them.
Compulsions can include checking repeatedly, doing things in a particular order or way, counting, handwashing, trying to counteract negative thoughts with positive ones, tapping things and praying. Please note, there are also other reasons why people engage in rituals that are not linked with OCD.
Studies have shown that most people experience unwanted thoughts and pictures, which pop into their minds unexpectedly at times. This is really normal and most people can recognise that just because they think something, doesn’t mean it is more likely to happen or they want it to happen. Similarly, most people can identify rituals that they carry out “just in case”, even though they can see there is no real connection with stopping bad things from happening. For example, someone may choose not to have the TV remote or radio volume set to an odd number, or they may engage in superstitious rituals such as touching wood in order not to tempt bad luck.
Obsessions and compulsions become problematic when they interfere with someone’s ability to get on with daily life and cause them a lot of distress. Unfortunately, OCD is often a secret difficulty, due to the embarrassment and shame that people can feel about what they are thinking and doing. However, if you think you are affected by OCD, talking to someone you like and trust can be an important first step to getting some help.
Now you know what OCD can look like, you may find some below sites useful in helping you start to tackle this
'Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: A Young person's self-help guide'- AnxietyUK
'Obsessions and Compulsions' self-help guide- Moodjuice
GetSelfHelp OCD self-help guide
Have you tried the advice and self-help information on this page? AND/OR Have you sought support from somewhere else (e.g school) but feel you need more help?
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