Skip to content

Information & Advice

...for Students

...for Staff

...on Assistive Technology

Obsessive Compulsive   Disorder (OCD)

What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?

The two main problem areas for OCD people are:

How might OCD affect your life as a student?

Where does OCD come from?

Sources of further information

What you can do about OCD at university

BACK TO TOP

What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?

Do you have unwanted thoughts or images coming into your mind that you find hard to dismiss (such as something terrible happening)? You possibly find these experiences upsetting and wish you could stop them happening, but it feels as though you can’t.

Perhaps you find yourself having to check things over and over again (such as door locks or gas taps). Do you have to keep doing certain things, like washing your hands?

This pattern describes somebody with a condition called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). You are not alone; this affects about 3% of people.

You are not ‘mad’ either. Most people get unwanted thoughts or feelings at times. The thing about OCD is the way these things happen such a lot that you can’t get on with your life.

The good news is that there are effective treatments for OCD.

BACK TO TOP

The two main problem areas for OCD people are:

Obsessions

 

Worries about dirt or illness are very common and may make you feel anxious. This might lead you to do things to make you feel better.

Unfortunately, some people with OCD may become depressed.

BACK TO TOP

Compulsions or rituals

These are the things you feel you have to do. There are usually two kinds, visible and internal.

Examples of visible rituals are:

BACK TO TOP

Examples of internal rituals are:

 

 

Everyone may show some of these behaviours at times. You are said to have OCD if the behaviours are constant, troubling and intense. You may have problems with social relationships as well as with educational achievement. OCD is not the result of diet, drug abuse or life-style. It can lead to depression and concern about your mental state, but it is part of the diversity of human beings.

BACK TO TOP

How might OCD affect your life as a student?

If you already know you have OCD before you come to university, the stress of starting a degree course might make your problems worse. For some people, the difficulties begin after they arrive.

At university, you might experience:

You may try to avoid people or places that you think are ‘unsafe’, and this has a bad effect on your social life.

BACK TO TOP

 

Where does OCD come from?

One positive aspect of the OCD personality is setting yourself high standards, but the problem comes from taking this to extremes. You might be a ‘perfectionist’ who wants to succeed 100% with everything you do. It is good to feel a sense of responsibility for other people, but again this becomes a problem if you start to feel responsible for things which are actually beyond your control. This kind of thing is often caused by events that have happened in the past.

BACK TO TOP

Sources of further information

You can find out more about OCD at:

www.ocduk.org

www.ocdaction.org.uk

www.ocdyouth.info  (a site for younger people, but very user-friendly)

BACK TO TOP

What you can do about OCD at university

Your university should be responsive to the needs of students with OCD, both because it is morally obliged to and (in many countries) because disability legislation obliges it to.

There are effective treatments available for OCD. Your university Mental Health Co-ordinator (or someone with a similar title) can advise on available options and help you to access services. He or she will probably be available through the Counselling service.

Treatment for OCD often involves:

 

OCD does not have to run your life. You can take control over it!

BACK TO TOP