What is OCD?

OCD is a chronic anxiety disorder that can severely affect a person’s quality of life.


An obsession, as defined in OCD, is any thought, image or urge that comes into a person’s head that causes them distress. The obsessions will be frequent, unwanted and difficult to control and include: –

  • Fear of contamination from dirt, germs, viruses (e.g. HIV), bodily fluids, excrement
  • Doubts about harm occurring (e.g. doors not locked, electrical appliances left on)
  • Sexual thoughts (e.g. a fear of being gay, a fear of committing a sexual crime)
  • Religious, sacrilegious or blasphemous thoughts
  • Violent/aggressive thoughts or images (e.g. fear of stabbing someone, pushing someone in front of a train/car)
  • Excessive concern with exactness, order, or symmetry


Compulsions are any behaviour, physical or mental, which are done to alleviate the anxiety caused by an obsession. Physical compulsions, such as hand-washing, will often take up many hours of a sufferer’s time. Even when performed ‘correctly’, the sufferer will often repeat the behaviour over and over until they feel ‘just right’ or safe. Other compulsions include: –

  • Checking doors, locks, electrical appliances
  • Checking writing to see if anything inappropriate (e.g. obscenities, sexual thoughts) have been written down
  • Praying
  • Magical/superstitious behaviour
  • Checking/scanning for bodily sensations
  • Ordering or arranging things

Do I have OCD?

Only a trained health professional can diagnose OCD however there are questions that could help you assess yourself:

  1. Do any of the obsessions previously mentioned cause you a lot of worry or make you fearful?
  2. Do you spend a lot of time trying to rid yourself of certain thoughts?
  3. Do you spend a lot time performing rituals to make thoughts go away/make you feel better?
  4. Finally, do the thoughts and behaviour make you feel worse?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions and it causes either significant distress or it interferes with your ability to work or study, your role as a homemaker, your social or family life, or your relationships, then there is a significant chance you have OCD.

Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS)

Y-BOCS is a series of 10 questions designed to assess whether you have OCD. Please try this automated scoring system. While this test alone will not confirm a diagnosis of OCD, it provides a strong indication as to whether you are suffering from OCD and its severity. This test ,combined with other measures, will be used by your GP or cognitive behavioural therapist to arrive at a diagnosis.