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Q&A ON OCD

WHAT IS OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE DISORDER (OCD)?

A mental disorder where the sufferer has thoughts, feelings or fears that drive him to do something repeatedly.

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS?

The common signs are having repeated thoughts or images about many different things and performing the same rituals over and over such as excessive hand-washing, constant checking, counting behaviour and hoarding.

OCD usually begins before the age of 25 and often in childhood or adolescence.

IS IT HARMFUL?

Most people do not see OCD as a problem, as long as everyone else is willing to adjust to his or her lifestyle, said consultant psychiatrist Brian Yeo.

Once other people or family members are unable to accommodate his or her lifestyle, it becomes a problem and the patient might need treatment and professional help.

HOW TO TREAT OCD?

If you or your loved one experiences signs of OCD and it starts to negatively affect daily life, seek professional help from a psychiatrist.

Most of the time, OCD patients will undergo behavioural treatment - exposure and response prevention (ERP) - to reduce the compulsive behaviour, Dr Yeo said.

A typical course of ERP treatment lasts between 14 and 16 weeks.

Doctors may also prescribe medication. The most commonly prescribed medications for OCD are anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants.