Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

Explains what obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is, including possible causes and how you can access treatment and support. Includes tips for helping yourself, and guidance for friends and family.

Your stories

Finding help for OCD

Katie d'Ath
Posted on 17/10/2013

Winning Mastermind and managing OCD

Clive shares his recent Mastermind victory and his experiences of managing OCD.

Posted on 28/04/2014

What’s wrong with ‘a little OCD’?

Posted on 17/10/2013

How can I help myself?

Obsessions and compulsions can take over your life and leave you feeling helpless. This page has some suggestions for things you can do for yourself to manage your OCD and help you feel more in control.

Try self help resources

Some people with mild OCD find that they can use self help resources to develop their own coping strategies - or you may use them while you are waiting for treatment or alongside it. These are often based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). You may have to try a few different options to find the one that works for you:

  • OCD Action offers a range of self help resources and information.
  • You could ask your doctor if there are any self help books available on prescription.
  • You can access online cognitive behavioural therapy through your doctor (Beating the Blues).

Build your support network

Many people find it hard to talk about OCD. You might worry that people won't understand. You might have kept your OCD secret for such a long time that it feels very scary to put some of your experiences into words. Strengthening the relationships around you may help you feel less lonely and more able to cope.

  • Talk to someone you trust about your OCD. Find a quiet space to talk where you won't be interrupted. You could show them this information (especially our section for family and friends) to help them understand. Some people find it helpful to write their feelings down in a letter and then talk about it together.
  • Spend time with friends and family. You might not feel ready to talk openly about your OCD yet. But spending more time with friends and family may help you feel more comfortable around them and, in time, more able to share your experiences.

Sharing the obsessive thoughts made them feel less powerful.​

Try peer support

Peer support brings together people who’ve had similar experiences to support each other. Peer support can offer many benefits, such as:

  • feeling accepted for who you are
  • increased self-confidence
  • helping you feel less isolated - you might be relieved to find others with very similar experiences
  • give you a safe, non judgmental space to talk with people who understand
  • finding out new information and places for support
  • challenging stigma and discrimination

You could contact your local Mind to find a support group near you. You can also find specific support groups for OCD through OCDAction and OCD-UK. See our pages on peer support for more information.

Online support

If you don't want to attend a support group or can't find one locally then you could think about looking for online support:

 See our pages on staying safe online for more information.

I remember wishing I could just talk to someone who could tell me they had felt what I was feeling.

Learn to relax

  • Manage your stress. Your OCD can get worse if you are stressed and anxious. Our pages on managing stress can help you manage pressure and build resilience.
  • Try some relaxation techniques. Relaxation can help you look after your wellbeing when you are feeling stressed, anxious or busy. Have a look at our pages on relaxation.
  • Try mindfulness. You might find that your CBT therapist includes some principles of mindfulness in your therapy. Mindfulness can help you manage unwanted thoughts and reduce stress and anxiety. It can be helpful as part of recovery from OCD. We've got more info on mindfulness here.

Look after yourself

  • Try to get enough sleep. Sleep can give you the energy to cope with difficult feelings and experiences. Our page on coping with sleep problems has lots more information.
  • Think about your diet. Eating regularly and keeping your blood sugar stable can make a difference to your mood and energy levels. Our pages on food and mood have lots more information.
  • Try and take some exercise. Exercise can be really helpful for your mental wellbeing. Our pages on physical activity have lots more information.

Living my life and managing OCD

Read Helen's blog about managing her OCD compulsions at home and at work.

Is your story missing?  Find out more about blogging for us.

This information was published in July 2016. We will revise it in 2019.

Mental Health A-Z

Information and advice on a huge range of mental health topics

> Read our A-Z


Helping you to better understand and support people with mental health problems

> Find out more

Special offers

Check out our promotional offers on print and digital booklets, for a limited time only

> Visit our shop today