Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common anxiety disorder characterised by the presence of obsessions and compulsions that impair daily functioning. OCD can be very distressing – to the sufferer and those around you. It may be accompanied by depression and feelings of helplessness.
OCD is a long-term condition characterised by thoughts that make you feel anxious (obsessions) and behaviours you employ to reduce this anxiety (compulsions). Anxiety-provoking thoughts could centre on contamination by germs, or that someone will be harmed because of your negligence. Sufferers may sometimes see vivid pictures in their mind of violent or sexual images which are completely out of character; but, importantly, sufferers do not act upon these. Rituals such as washing hands repeatedly, constant checking and asking for reassurance from others that everything is okay may be some of the ‘coping’ behaviours employed.
Panic attacks are a physical manifestation of high anxiety. Symptoms can be breathlessness, an urge to flee (or freeze) reflex, sickness, vomiting, upset stomach or even fainting. They can begin seemingly ‘out of the blue’ or be attached to a traumatic event, problems at work or bereavement.
Phobias are many and varied from common phobias such as arachnophobia or koumpounophobia (fear of buttons) to fear of a colour or particular smell. Whatever it is, when a phobia causes panic and stress and alters how you will lead your life, it becomes a phobia. Treatment can often be delayed by the sufferer’s fear of having to confront exactly that which causes terror in them but, done sensitively and consistently, fear can subside and even cease altogether.