The final blog for Mental Health Awareness Week examines the issue of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD.

Many people have a narrow view of OCD and regard it as an odd, quirky condition where the sufferer is obsessed with constant cleaning or repeating certain actions such as turning on and off switches. However, there is so much more to this disorder.

Simply put, OCD is a mental health condition which is associated primarily with two things: obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours. Having an obsessive thought or urge totally overwhelms a sufferer of OCD to the point of impacting their daily life. The compulsion is the mental thought or repetitive behaviour that the person is compelled to perform in an effort to undo the obsession.

People that suffer with OCD are generally aware that their behaviour is problematic and not regarded as normal. Despite this knowledge they cannot stop their compulsion and if they are prevented from following a certain behaviour pattern they become anxious and extremely worried.

It is important to realise that obsessive compulsive disorder is not something to laugh at — it is not simply a form of quirky or weird behaviour. It is a mental health condition and can affect any person at any time. It is also a treatable condition and is not something to be ashamed of.

Girl vacuum cleaning

If you feel you are experiencing any form of obsessive behaviour you need to visit your GP or a mental health professional who will assess your condition and look at your level of OCD if applicable. Generally, the treatment is a course of CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) which is tailored to the OCD and the effect it has on the individual. Medication is also an option in certain cases. There are also support groups for sufferers of OCD which can be located online through OCD Ireland and OCD UK.

Remember that there is help out there for this and other mental health disorders. The more we become aware of mental health conditions such as OCD, the easier it becomes for those experiencing them to seek help.