Reading Time: 4 mins
Suitable for: Families of primary-age children
Read the secondary-aged version of this Quick Read.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition where a person experiences negative thoughts, as well as feelings of doubt or danger (obsessions). As a way of trying to reduce the anxiety, they will often repeat an action, again, and again (compulsions).
OCD affects 1-2% of the population, and around 1% of young people. That means if there are 500 children in a school, there could be 5 who have OCD. In childhood, boys are more commonly affected than girls. However, this changes during puberty.
OCD is more than just liking things neat or washing hands. The obsessions and compulsions can cause a lot of distress and have a significant impact on your child’s quality of life. According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), OCD is thought to be the fourth most common psychiatric illness.
Typically, OCD is misunderstood with people not realising the effects it has on people's lives. Individuals with OCD might have cleaning rituals, but they do not enjoy them. People may make jokes about it or describe themselves as a 'little OCD'. This can be frustrating and upsetting for people who have the condition.