Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety related condition. People with OCD experience frequent unwanted and sometimes disturbing thoughts and/or images (‘obsessions’). They then attempt to relieve the anxiety caused by these thoughts by performing repetitive behaviours, urges or mental rituals (‘compulsions’).
It’s quite common for people with severe anxiety to also experience recurrent worrying thoughts and feel the need to repeat a behaviour (e.g. two blinks), which they think will stop a bad thing from happening. This does not necessarily mean they have OCD although there is an overlap of symptoms. Children or young people with autism also sometimes use repetitive behaviours to help themselves feel calmer. Have a look at our pages on anxiety for some general resources.
Often, the relief brought by carrying out these compulsive actions is short lived, and in the longer term reinforces the obsession, which worsens the condition. OCD can consume excessive amounts of time, cause significant distress, and make it difficult to get on with normal life (e.g. school, college, social activities, family life). However there is lots of help and advice available which can help children and young adults learn to cope and there is good advice for parents below. Medication for anxiety is sometimes used to help adults with OCD.
Typically, OCD falls into one of the following categories:
What to Do When Your Brain Gets Stuck: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming OCDby Dawn Huebner. For children age 8-12 years. This is a book from the US with some American terminology like “garbage” and “junk” but it’s well written and helps you talk to your child about strategies for dealing with unwanted thoughts and behaviours. Available here
Touch and Go Joe: An Adolescent's Experience of OCD by Joe Wells Available here
Can I tell you about OCD? by Arnita Jass A short book that is useful for children but also parents and siblings to explain what it’s like to have OCD. Available here
Talking Back to OCD: The Program That Helps Kids and Teens Say No Way – and Parents Say Way to Go by John March and Christine Benton. Available here
Breaking Free from OCD: A CBT Guide for Young People and Their Families* by Jo Derisley. Part of the Reading Well "Shelf-Help" scheme of books chosen by young people and professionals : available in your local library. Available here