Monthly Health with Dr Phil Dyer


This month Dr Dyer gives advice on obsessive compulsive disorder

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is one of the most common mental health disorders in Britain.


It is associated with having both obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviour and has been known to affect people of any age, though in men, symptoms can begin to show in adolescence and for women, it is usually during their early 20s.


People with OCD generally fall into a habitual pattern that begins with an obsession. This is where your mind becomes overwhelmed by a constant fear – such as leaving the door unlocked or fear of contamination by disease. This provokes a feeling of intense anxiety or stress, leading into the adoption of a pattern of compulsive behaviour to reduce your anxiety.


Examples of this include checking the door several times before leaving and repeated cleaning or washing. After indulging in compulsive behaviour there is temporary relief which isn’t permanent, as the anxiety soon returns looping back to the beginning of the cycle. In many cases of OCD the compulsion has no logical connection to the obsession. Most people with OCD realise their superstitious and compulsive behaviour is irrational and makes no logical sense, but are unable to stop acting on their compulsion. 


The exact cause of OCD is yet unknown, but there is evidence to suggest that there might be a biological factor involved as the result of an inherited gene affecting the development of the brain.


If you already have OCD, the way you are treated will depend on the severity of your condition, it is counted that if you spend under an hour a day obsessively thinking and having compulsive behaviour, it is classed as mild dysfunctional impairment. If it takes up over three hours of your day, it is classed as severe functional impairment.


In some cases, sufferers of the disorder may also suffer from depression, so it is important to get a formal diagnosis from your GP as soon as you start to show symptoms. It is a chronic health condition and it is important to get help as soon as possible. Treatment can involve a combination of psychological and medication treatment, and in severe cases, surgery.


If you think you may be suffering from OCD, or would like more information, please visit your GP or have a look at




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