Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, commonly referred to as OCD, is a mental health condition with three main parts: obsessions, emotions, and compulsions. Obsessions are persistent thoughts, images, doubts, worries, or urges that intrude on an individual’s mind, despite being unwanted. These thoughts can cause significant mental discomfort or anxiety as well as guilt, depression, and disgust.
It’s a condition that 12 in every 1000 people in the UK live with1.
In this blog, one of our doctors, Dr Alex Worthington, will answer some of the most common questions surrounding the condition.
What’s the most common myth surrounding OCD?
We’ve all heard, or maybe used, the phrase ‘I’m a bit OCD’ when referring to certain habits of preferences which actually trivialise the experience of living with OCD. For example, some believe that enjoying order and cleanliness is a sign of OCD when it’s just a preference that many people have. Similarly, while perfectionism can be an element of OCD, it’s not a defining feature, and many non-OCD individuals also strive for perfection in certain areas of their life.
Dr Worthington said: “It’s important to understand that OCD is a serious condition that can cause significant distress and impairment.
“These commonly used phrases like ‘I’m so OCD’ can trivialise the experience of those living with OCD and show there is still a way to go in public understanding of the disorder and breaking the taboos associated with it”.
What are intrusive thoughts?
Intrusive thoughts are unwelcome and repetitive thoughts that can appear without warning. They are often distressing or disturbing, taking the form of images, sounds, or statements.
One of the most common types of intrusive thought is related to harm. Dr Worthington gives the example of: “the fear of harming others due to a loss of control to thoughts of pushing someone in front of a train or causing harm while driving; they can often appear out of nowhere and involve violent or abusive actions”.
How can you support a partner living with OCD?
Supporting a partner living with a health condition, be it a physical or mental condition, can be challenging. Dr Worthington says that one of the most important things a person can do to support their loved one is to encourage them to “talk about their experience in a way that feels comfortable to them can help.
Remember to be patient and non-judgmental when they share their thoughts and feelings with you. It’s important to learn more about OCD, to understand what your loved one is going through and enable them to share their experiences in a non-judgemental and safe environment.”
Can OCD affect someone’s family, social or work life?
OCD can be all-encompassing, impacting almost every aspect of a person’s life. In the work environment, OCD can impact a person’s productivity levels as compulsions can often be time-consuming and exhaustive.
According to research, people living with OCD were 72% more likely to be long-term unemployed, compared to those living without the condition2.
In a family setting, Dr Worthington says: “relatives may have to take responsibility for the daily tasks that the person with OCD is unable to complete due to energy levels and intrusive thoughts. This can range from household chores to childcare duties”.
How can clinic environments accommodate people with OCD?
As with all health conditions, doctors have a responsibility to support their patients. Doctors and clinic staff should remain open-minded and empathetic towards any individuals living with the condition.
For doctors at MAC Clinical Research like Dr Worthington, patient care is the utmost priority. He says: “We are happy to discuss triggers, any worries you may have and what to expect throughout every point in your journey as a clinical trial participant and discuss the steps we can take to make you feel more comfortable. We will always try to accommodate your needs, and we offer a safe, non-judgmental, and encouraging environment”.
MAC Clinical Research are continuing to welcome those living with OCD to our clinics through clinical trials. We are currently investigating a medication that is thought to target a different signalling pathway in the brain to current OCD treatments, which may help to control obsessive or compulsive behaviours. With your participation, you may be able to contribute to scientific research which may lead to a new medicine to help people living with OCD.
The trial is taking place at MAC clinics in Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Merseyside, South Staffordshire, South Yorkshire, Teesside, and West Yorkshire.
To be eligible, you must:
- Be between 18 and 65 years old.
- Have had OCD, or OCD symptoms for at least 1 year.
- Feel that your current medication is not fully working.
Eligible participants will receive up to £490 for their time and commitment to the study, along with reasonable travel costs. If the treatment works you may be allowed to continue taking it (open-label extension) for up to 48 weeks.
For more information on how you can get involved, visit our OCD Research page.
1 NHS Inform – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)