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NHS Choices Condition

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The importance of seeking treatment

Many people with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) are reluctant to report their symptoms to a GP because they feel ashamed and embarrassed about their condition. It is also not unusual for a person with OCD to go to great lengths to disguise their symptoms from friends or family.

However, if you have OCD it is important to remember that there is nothing to feel ashamed or embarrassed about. Like diabetes or asthma, OCD is a chronic health condition, and it is not your fault that you have developed it.

Getting help for others

Sometimes, the friends and relatives of a person with OCD find themselves ‘playing along’ with their strange behaviour in order not to upset them. This is not recommended because it can reinforce the person’s obsessive compulsive behaviour.

It is better to confront them with the reality of their unusual behaviour and suggest that they seek medical advice.

Initial screening

When visiting your GP, he or she will probably ask you a series of questions that, in the past, have been successful in assessing whether or not people have OCD. These questions may include those listed below.

  • Do you wash and clean a lot?
  • Do you check things a lot?
  • Do you have thoughts that keep bothering you that you would like to get rid of but cannot?
  • Do your daily activities take a long time to finish?
  • Are you concerned about putting things in a special order, or are you upset by mess?
  • Do these problems trouble you?



If the results of the initial screening questions suggest that you have OCD, the severity of your symptoms will need to be assessed. Assessment may be carried out by your GP, or you may be referred to a mental health professional.

There are several different methods of assessment, but they all ask you a series of detailed questions in order to determine how much of your day-to-day life is affected by obsessive-compulsive thoughts and behaviour.

During the assessment process, it is important for you to be honest because accurate and truthful responses will ensure that you receive the most appropriate type of treatment.

Types of OCD

The severity of OCD can be determined by how much your symptoms affect your ability to function normally on a day-to-day basis. Health professionals refer to this disruption of daily function as functional impairment. The different severities of OCD are classified as follows:

  • Mild functional impairment: obsessive thinking and compulsive behaviour occupy one hour of your day.
  • Moderate functional impairment: obsessive thinking and compulsive behaviour occupy two hours of your day.
  • Severe functional impairments: obsessive thinking and compulsive behaviour occupy more than three hours of your day.
view information about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder on www.nhs.co.uk »

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