According to the ABC (2007) about 1.9% of people in Australia are affected by Obsessive Compulsive Disorders (OCD).

Obsessions are recurring and persistent thoughts or images. Whereas the urge to carry out certain behaviours or rituals is known as compulsions.

OCD can significantly reduce the quality of life. People with OCD feel shame while carrying out these compulsions. Such feelings can further increase the problem and also the sense of shame.

A person with obsessive compulsive disorder washing hands

OCD can occur anytime during the day and even children of age six and above have shown symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorders, although the full development of obsessive symptoms occurs by adolescence.


Symptoms of OCD according to DSM 5 are

  1. Common obsessive thoughts including:
    • Contamination from dirt or germs
    • A concern with personal safety or the safety of others
    • A concern with order or symmetry
    • Thoughts that are inconsistent with the individual’s values, such as aggressive, sexual, or blasphemous thoughts.
  2. Common compulsive behaviours include excessive or repeated:
    • Cleaning, for example, washing hands or scrubbing household surfaces
    • Checking, for example, whether doors are locked, or appliances are switched off
    • Ordering, for example, placing objects in a pattern or making things look symmetrical
    • Mental acts, for example, reciting phrases in one’s head or counting
    • Hoarding, for example, collecting old newspapers or other things that aren’t useful or of value.


The first step for seeking treatment for OCD is to approach a professional. They may advice medication, psychotherapy or a combination of both.

Psycho-therapeutic treatments for OCD that meet the approval of APS include:

APS Approved Treatments for OCD

Duration and Intensity

OCD that usually occur in early childhood can last a long time unless treated. Intensity is to the extent the OCD affects normal functioning and daily life. High intensity greatly affects ones occupational and social life.


OCD can co-occur with anxiety disorders, phobias, Autism spectrum disorders, Substance use, depression, Eating Disorders and PTSD and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.

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