woman cleaning OCD Perfectionism the difference

It is not uncommon for people to loosely refer to themselves as “being OCD” – e.g. when referring to the need to have a clean housem, and confuse having high standards or being perfectionistic with having Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

1.9% of Australian’s aged 16-85 years have OCD.

The best way to determine if you have OCD is to look at whether you experience ‘obsessions’, or ‘compulsions’.

Obsessions – intrusive, repetitive thoughts, images or urges that are distressing. E.g. intrusive doubt over whether you have done something such as locking the front door, or turning the oven off; contamination concerns; unwanted sexual or religious thoughts; or images and fears of harming yourself or others

Compulsions – repetitive behaviours/or rituals. E.g. checking behaviour, excessive washing, ordering or aligning items, tapping or touching objects, counting, praying or saying a protective phrase – in order to reduce anxiety or prevent something bad from happening. For example, the house burning down should the oven be left on, or your family having a car accident if you don’t tap the table 5 times. You may have rules as to how you perform the compulsions and feel anxious or angry if prevented from engaging in your compulsions.

If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide, contact crisis support services such as Lifeline (13 11 14), the Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800) or the NSW Mental Health Line (1800 011 511).

*2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing