Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

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

Your stories

OCD and me

OCD symptoms can be distressing and disruptive to the lives of those that struggle with the disorder. A member

Posted on 03/11/2017

Dealing with intrusive thoughts

Amber blogs about how her OCD can came in the form of intrusive thoughts and how she deals with it.

Amber
Posted on 06/08/2018

Living with OCD

Charlotte blogs about her experience of OCD and how it affects her day-to-day life.

Posted on 23/06/2016

How can I help myself?

Obsessions and compulsions can take over your life, and leave you feeling helpless. However, there are some things you can try to help manage your OCD and improve your wellbeing.

Remember that different things work for different people at different times. If something isn't working for you (or doesn't feel possible just now), you can try something else or come back to it another time.

Try self-help resources

Self-help resources for OCD are designed to help you develop coping strategies and are often based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Make sure any resources you use are properly accredited.

  • OCD-UK offers a range of self-help resources.
  • You can ask your GP to recommend a self-help book from a Reading Well scheme called ‘Books on Prescription’. This scheme is supported by most local libraries, so you can go and check the books out for free – you don't actually need a prescription from a doctor.

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 page for family and friends) to help them understand. Some people find it helpful to write their feelings down and then talk about this 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

Making connections with people with similar or shared experiences can be really helpful. You could try talking to other people who have OCD to share your feelings, experiences and ideas for looking after yourself. For example, you could:

If you're seeking peer support online, it's important to look after your wellbeing. You can read more about looking after your online mental health here.

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

Learn to let go

  • Manage your stress. Stress and anxiety can make OCD worse. You can read more about how to manage stress here.
  • Try a relaxation technique. Relaxation can help you look after your wellbeing when you are feeling stressed, anxious or busy. You can read more about relaxation here.
  • Try mindfulness. You might find that your CBT therapist includes some principles of mindfulness in your therapy. Mindfulness can help you reduce stress and anxiety. For some people, it can be helpful as part of recovery from OCD. You can read more about mindfulness here.

Look after your physical health

  • Get enough sleep. Sleep can give you the energy to cope with difficult feelings and experiences. You can read more about sleep problems here.
  • Think about your diet. Eating regularly and keeping your blood sugar stable can make a difference to your mood and energy levels. You can read more about food and mental health here.
  • Try to do some physical activity. Many people find exercise a challenge but activities like yoga, swimming or walking can help improve your mood. Any kind of physical activity counts – from a chair-based exercise regime to dancing round the kitchen – the important thing is to find something that works for you. You can read more about physical activity and mental health here.

Living my life and managing OCD

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

Want to add your story? Find out more about blogging for us.


This information was published in May 2019. We will revise it in 2022. References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information see our page on permissions and licensing.


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