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What are typical symptoms and treatments for OCD?

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With David Beckham having told of his experiences of living with obsessive compulsive disorder for a new Netflix series, we take a look at the condition, and how common it is.

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What is OCD?

OCD is not simply about liking things to be neat – the condition can have a serious impact on individuals and their quality of life. It is a mental health condition in which people often have obsessive, typically distressing, thoughts as well as compulsions or rituals.

The UK’s Royal College of Psychiatrists says the thoughts can include being contaminated by germs or contracting diseases, upsetting mental pictures or fears of having harmed someone. The rituals can include avoiding particular scenarios, or making repeated checks on a situation.

How common is OCD?

The answer varies a bit from source to source. A US study suggests 1.2% of US adults have OCD in a 12-month period, while the Royal College of Psychiatrists states that about one in 50 people have OCD at some point in their lives, with men and women equallyaffected. “That adds up to over 1 million people in the UK,” the latter reports.

Among people who have spoken out about having OCD are Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz and the American goalkeeper Tim Howard.

Do we know what causes OCD?

That’s a knotty question, with genetics, life events and personality among the factors thought to contribute to the development.

“OCD is a health condition like any other, so there is nothing to feel ashamed or embarrassed about,” the NHS states. “Having OCD does not mean you’re ‘mad’ and it’s not your fault you have it.”

What is the treatment for OCD?

There are a number of possible approaches for tackling OCD including cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), a talking therapy that aims to change the way an individual thinks. In some cases this can include graded exposure and response prevention (ERP), an approach that involves individuals facing scenarios that would normally trigger a compulsion, such as handwashing or checking the doors, but without taking those actions.

Medication can also be used to treat OCD, in particular selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a type of antidepressant. These can also be used alongside forms of CBT.

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( With inputs from : www.theguardian.com )

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