Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a common mental health condition where a person has obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours. It can be very distressing and significantly interfere with your life, but treatment can help you keep it under control.

An obsession is an unwanted and unpleasant thought, image or urge that repeatedly enters your mind, causing feelings of anxiety, disgust or unease.

A compulsion is a repetitive behaviour or mental act that you feel you need to do to temporarily relieve the unpleasant feelings brought on by the obsessive thought. For example, someone with an obsessive fear of being burgled may feel they need to check all the windows and doors are locked several times before they can leave their house.

Watch this short video explaining what OCD is:
Causes of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

It's not clear what causes OCD. A number of different factors may play a part, including:

Family history

You're more likely to develop OCD if a family member has it, possibly because of your genes.

Differences in the brain

Some people with OCD have areas of unusually high activity in their brain or low levels of a chemical called serotonin.

Life events

OCD may be more common in people who have been bullied, abused or neglected, and it sometimes starts after an important life event, such as childbirth or a bereavement.


Neat, meticulous, methodical people with high personal standards may be more likely to develop OCD, also people who are generally quite anxious or have a very strong sense of responsibility for themselves and others.

If you recognise any of these factors within yourself and feel like you need support, we can help you. Talk to one of our wellbeing professionals today, get in touch by email or give us a call at 0300 123 1705.

People with OCD are often reluctant to seek help because they feel ashamed or embarrassed - don't be!

OCD is a health condition like any other, so there's nothing to feel ashamed or embarrassed about. Having OCD does not mean you're 'mad' and it's not your fault you have it.

There are two main ways to get help:

  • Refer yourself directly to a psychological therapies service – such as talk to a Keeping Well wellbeing professional to get the help you need. Start a live chat with us today.
  • Talk to your GP – they'll ask about your symptoms and discuss treatment options.
Where to go for support 

Living with OCD can be difficult. In addition to getting medical help, you might find it helps to contact a support group or other people with OCD for information and advice.

The following websites may be useful sources of support:

These websites can also let you know about any local support groups in your area.

Obsessions and Compulsions - An NHS self help guide

In this self-help guidebook they provide information on what OCD is, symptoms of OCD, how to recognise when you are experiencing obsessions/compulsive behaviour or thoughts, treatment options and useful organisations/resources. An easy read version is also available to download here.

Just Ask a Question (JAAQ) website

Get answers on mental health from world leading experts and those with lived experience on the JAAQ website, over 50,000 questions on over 60 health and wellness topics. 


We recognise that our healthcare colleagues in North West London are from a variety of culturally-diverse backgrounds, with many cultures having unique and specific information on mental health disorders. 

We have linked some free trauma psychoeducation resources translated into a number of languages for our colleagues.  

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