Obsessions and compulsions can take up an enormous part of someone's waking hours and can become extremely frustrating for the child and those around themFind out more
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a fairly common, treatable, neuropsychiatric disorder involving excessive, intrusive and inappropriate obsessions (uninvited thoughts which occur over and over) and/or compulsions; they arrive without warning and without being initiated; they will not disappear just because the sufferer does not wish to entertain them.
It is not known what causes OCD, but it is known that it is not the sufferer's fault or the result of a weak or dysfunctional personality or family background. Some research has suggested that genes may play a role in some cases, and it is known to run in families, particularly when it is first seen during early childhood.
OCD is far more common than people realise: in the UK approximately 1.2% of adults currently have OCD and numerous cases go unrecognised and unreported for many reasons. Although OCD is predominately an adult mental health condition, it is estimated that 1:100 children have the condition. Not all obsessive-compulsive behaviours are unusual or disabling; some are welcome and supportive rituals, such as daily prayers, bedtime stories, kissing on parting, etc. Only when the rituals become persistant, senseless, cause anxieties and distress or make normal life impossible for the sufferer or people close to them - do they need to be addressed.
Unlike psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia, people with OCD usually know what is real and what is not, and that often their thoughts or the actions they need to do make no sense (to others). There is no instant cure for OCD, but its symptoms can be controlled either by medication and/or cognitive behaviour therapy. In some cases symptoms can be quite disabling, OCD can become all-consuming with a resulting significant adverse impact on educatonal and social functioning.
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