Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Definition: Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder in which people have recurring, unwanted thoughts, ideas or sensations (obsessions) that make them feel driven to do something repetitively (compulsions).

About Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition characterised by persistent and unwanted thoughts, known as obsessions, and the urge to engage in repetitive mental or physical actions, known as compulsions, in order to temporarily alleviate the distress caused by these thoughts.

Obsessions are intrusive and recurring thoughts, images, or impulses that generate anxiety and are difficult to control. Attempting to suppress or stop these thoughts often leads to increased distress. Although these thoughts originate from one's own mind, they are challenging to manage. They typically revolve around subjects that hold deep personal significance, such as health, contamination, harm, sexuality, relationships, religion, morality, or a general sense of unease.

Compulsions, on the other hand, are repetitive behaviours or actions that individuals feel compelled to engage in, even though they recognize that they are unnecessary or irrational. These compulsions are closely tied to the obsessions and are the brain's way of attempting to cope with the anxiety triggered by them.

Compulsive actions can become rigid and ritualistic. For instance, individuals may feel the need to touch objects in a specific way, check things repeatedly, or wash their hands a certain number of times. They might avoid certain lines, cracks, or doorways. Some compulsions are not visible to others and may involve internal activities such as counting or silently praying, or feeling a compulsion to think specific thoughts or visualise particular mental images. Individuals may also avoid certain situations, seek constant reassurance from others, or spend significant amounts of time ruminating about their thoughts.

Initially, engaging in these compulsive actions may provide a temporary sense of relief. However, the anxiety eventually resurfaces, leading individuals to perform more and more compulsive behaviours in an attempt to regain control and alleviate their escalating anxiety levels.Breaking this cycle of obsessions and compulsions is extremely challenging without assistance, and it can leave individuals feeling exhausted, sad, fearful, guilty, and ashamed. They may experience embarrassment about performing these behaviours in front of others, which can make socialising and maintaining relationships difficult.

Fortunately, with appropriate treatment, it is highly possible to achieve lasting relief from obsessions and compulsions, as well as the accompanying anxiety. Treatment can help individuals develop new ways of thinking that support their overall well-being.


For a comprehensive list of symptoms, you can visit the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand's website at mentalhealth.org.nz. They provide detailed information on the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and other mental health conditions.

Treatment Options

For more detailed information on OCD treatment, you can refer to the resources available on the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand's website at mentalhealth.org.nz. Additionally, seeking professional support from a general practitioner (GP) or healthcare provider is crucial. They can assess your specific needs, provide guidance, and refer you to appropriate mental health resources and specialists.

Resources & Links

Health Navigator NZ: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder - Comprehensive resources and guidance on OCD available through Health Navigator NZ.

OCDNZ - Dedicated organisation in New Zealand providing support and awareness for OCD.

Anxiety NZ - Offers support, resources, and education for individuals dealing with anxiety disorders, including OCD.

PADA: Perinatal OCD - Specialised support and resources for individuals experiencing Perinatal OCD during pregnancy and postnatal period.

MIND UK: OCD - Leading UK mental health charity offering information, advice, and support for OCD.

Fixate: OCD Support Group - A supportive community for individuals with OCD, fostering peer interaction and recovery.