Obsessive-compulsive disorder: Expert answers questions

30/07/13

Washing Hands

The department of health says it is committed to treating young people with mental health issues.

It's been announced that 24 sites across England have joined a programme to help improve mental health services available to teenagers, taking the total number of sites involved to 66.

A documentary following six young British people with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) as they travel America for treatment airs on BBC Three on Tuesday night.

Newsbeat listeners got in touch with questions about the condition for Joel Rose, the director of charity OCD Action.

Emily on Twitter: How many people in the UK suffer from it?

"There are around a million people in the UK who are at the point where those traits, those obsessions and compulsions have got so bad that it's having a big impact in their life.

It's much better to do something about it now rather than wait 10 or 15 years when it may get worse and will become even harder to treat
Joel Rose
Director of OCD Action

"Lots of people will have obsessions which are the thoughts, the sort of strange thoughts, which pop into their heads.

"And a lot of people will have compulsions which are the sort of things you do to help you manage stress or just to relax.

"What happens with OCD is that people getting bombarded with these obsessive thoughts and they're getting locked into a vicious cycle of obsessions and compulsions.

"That's when it can become a disorder."

Phil on Facebook: I have mild things, I'm not sure if these are disorders or I'm just really weird?

"While there are a million people who will have OCD, there must be many more who are a bit like Phil who have certain things they do and they just like to do them that way.

"The question we'd ask Phil and anyone is, 'How much is this having an impact on your life?'

"[It's] not only how long you're spending doing your rituals or how often you get the thoughts but actually what's called the opportunity cost - the things that you would be doing if it wasn't for the OCD, the girlfriend or boyfriend you might have, the job that you'd have if it wasn't for the OCD."

Mental Health Issues

Sian Roberts on Twitter: Is there a reason that certain people have OCD?

"The short answer is that no-one really knows. There are lots of things that can make it more or less likely that someone might have OCD.

"It could be genetic factors, it could be things that happen in your life.

"The good news it that while not many people know why, there's very little debate on what you should do about it.

"There are two treatments available. There's a medical treatment, the proper name for it is SSRI, and there's a talking treatment called CBT. It's a way of learning a different way to deal with the thoughts.

"The thoughts aren't the problem. It's how you're responding to them. The CBT will help to break that vicious cycle of obsessions and compulsions.

"If you're in that situation do something about that now. It's much better to do something about it now rather than waiting 10 or 15 years when it may get worse and will become even harder to treat.

"If you have any concerns about the condition you can go to the OCD action website."

Extreme OCD Camp is on BBC Three on Tuesday night at 9pm.

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