Health Talk With Adeola – OCD.

health talk with Adeola

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

The reports of suicide in the news in recent months has brought my attention back to mental health problems and I picked OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) as one of the common but less well-publicised mental health problems which is associated with an increased risk of suicide.

The worldwide prevalence of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is approximately 2% of the general population. It is thought that 1-3 in 100 people have some form of OCD behaviours or traits.

What is OCD?

A disorder is defined as an illness that disrupts normal physical or mental functions. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common mental health problem. Symptoms typically include recurring thoughts and repetitive actions in response to the recurring thoughts.

Health talk with Adeola - OCD

What are Obsessions?

Obsessions are unpleasant thoughts, images or urges that keep coming into your mind. Common obsessions include:

  • Fears about contamination with dirt, germs, viruses (for example, HIV), etc
  • Worries about doors being unlocked, fires left on, causing harm to someone, etc
  • Intrusive thoughts or images of swearing, blasphemy, sex, someone harmed, etc.
  • Fear of making a mistake or behaving badly.
  • A need for exactness in how you order or arrange things.

Obsessions can be about all sorts of things. Obsessive thoughts can make you feel disgusted, anxious or depressed. You normally try to ignore or suppress obsessive thoughts.

Health talk with Adeola - OCD

What are Compulsions?

Compulsions are thoughts or actions that you feel you must do or repeat. Usually, the compulsive act is in response to an obsession. A compulsion is a way of trying to deal with the distress or anxiety caused by an obsession.

For example, you may wash your hands every few minutes in response to an obsessional fear about germs. Another example is you may keep on checking that doors are locked, in response to the obsession about doors being unlocked. Other compulsions include repeated cleaning, counting, touching, saying words silently, arranging and organising – but there are others.

The Impact of OCD

In popular culture and frequently within the media OCD is mistakenly portrayed as a positive trait and personality quirk, but in reality – for those that suffer from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), it has a devastating impact on their life. The obsessions that you have with OCD can make you feel really anxious and distressed.

The severity of OCD can range from some life disruption to causing severe distress. You know that the obsessions and compulsions are excessive or unreasonable. However, you find it difficult or impossible to resist them.

OCD affects people in different ways. For example, some people spend hours carrying out compulsions and, as a consequence, cannot get on with normal activities.

health talk with adeola

Some people do their compulsions over and over again in secret (like rituals). Other people may seem to cope with normal activities but are distressed by their recurring obsessive thoughts. OCD can affect your work (or schoolwork in children), relationships, social life and quality of life.

OCD can be so severe that it can seriously impact on some or all areas of a person’s life, sometimes disrupting or completely ruining: Education, Employment, Career development, Relationships with partners, parents, siblings and friends, Starting a family.

Also, some of the behaviours that people do to cope with OCD (including compulsions) can also have devastating effects, for example, Substance abuse (self-medicating with alcohol or other substances or harmful drugs)

Who gets OCD and why?

The cause of OCD is not clear.  Anyone at any age can develop OCD but it usually first develops between the ages of 18 and 30. Up to 2 in 100 children are also thought to have OCD. If you are concerned that you may have OCD, you should see your doctor and explain your concerns. Is there any thought that keeps bothering you that you would like to get rid of but cannot? Do these thoughts interfere to the extent that you respond to them with some compulsory actions so much so that it interferes with your daily activities by taking a long time to finish them or not even being able to perform your daily activities or function?

A detailed assessment is needed for OCD to be diagnosed. This may either be carried out by your doctor or by a specialist mental health team. The assessment will look at any obsessional thoughts and compulsions that you have and how they affect you and your daily life. Children with OCD may be referred to a specialist mental health team which is experienced in assessing and treating children with OCD.

What is the treatment for OCD?

The usual treatment for OCD is:

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT); or
  • Medication, usually with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant medicine; or
  • A combination of CBT plus an SSRI antidepressant medicine.
health talk with adeola

Cognitive behavioural therapy is a type of therapy that deals with your current thought processes and/or behaviours and aims to change them by creating strategies to overcome negative patterns, which may help you to manage OCD more effectively.

Recent studies suggest that people with OCD are 10 times more likely to die by suicide than the general population. Actively thinking about suicide (sometimes called suicidal ideation) also appears to be relatively common among people affected by OCD.  This risk can be further heightened when an OCD sufferer develops depression because he or she is unable to relieve themselves of the disabling symptoms of OCD.

The take-home message is to seek help early when suffering from symptoms of OCD or indeed any mental health problems. We all have a role to play in reducing the suicide rates in our community. Being aware and supportive of people with mental health difficulties goes a long way to relieve their distress and prevent the rising rates of suicide.


OCD UK, WHO, VeryWell mind, Time to, NHS Self Help therapies. NHS Cognitive behavioural therapies.

Suicide Risk in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Exploration of Risk Factors: A Systematic Review. (PMID:29929465)

See also:


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder


I recently read that the retail store ‘TK Maxx’ had to pull a range of products that many felt trivialized obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

The Christmas themed kitchenware featured slogans like’ I have O.C.D… Obsessive Christmas Disorder. This upset some customers and caused a backlash from charity campaigners.

Am sure a lot of us will be wondering why a harmless festive slogan will cause such reactions. I wondered about it too and have since gotten information on what OCD really is. Thanks to my  BBC London radio shows as well as my personal research.

What is OCD?

A lot of us have heard of OCD before and use the word loosely because of our lack of in-depth knowledge of what it really is.

The NHS website describes it as ‘a common mental health condition in which a person has obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours’. It affects men, women, and children and interestingly can develop at any stage.

I listened to a lady on the radio who said hers started postpartum. She started having compelling thoughts about harming her baby. She, of course, loves her baby and was deeply troubled and disturbed about the thoughts. Luckily she got help and has been given medication and advise on how to manage it.


  1. unwanted and unpleasant repeated thoughts or images, worries or doubt.
  2. Repetitive behaviour or mental act that an individual feels the need to carry out to reduce anxiety caused by obsession.

According to the OCD-UK website, There are 5 main types

  • Checking
  • Contamination
  • Symmetry and ordering
  • Ruminations/Intrusive Thoughts
  • Hoarding

Many of us have used the term OCD loosely. We often refer to a very clean or neat person or some other compulsive action as OCD. They may actually be a symptom, but are not necessarily OCD in the instance it’s been used. I listened to another caller who always felt the need to clean herself that she would take a shower sometimes lasting about 21/2 hours.

It’s more serious than being clean or orderly. We should please show some respect to people living with it by not referring to our ‘clean selves’ as being OCD. It is a devastating mental health condition and shouldn’t be used trivially as people suffering it find it offensive when it is done.

Another caller spoke of how he struggled with the thoughts for a long time and was almost suicidal. He thought he was going mad but subsequently got help.

If you find yourself having any obsessive thoughts please do not be ashamed or embarrassed, please seek help! Talk to your Dr. about it, you can also reach out to support groups or organisations like the OCD-UK, OCD ACTION etc.


My post today is a layman’s view but please don’t hesitate to comment or ask questions. Our in-house doctor, Dr. Adeola will be able to respond appropriately.

The ‘TK MAXX’ management responded swiftly pulling the products and apologising saying ‘it was never their intention to cause offense’.