OCD and Self-Help Resources | OCD-UK (2023)


Waiting for therapy to start can be frustrating and we’re often left treading water with no help or support. But that’s not to say you can’t do something, that’s why we have some guidance for you on ourpreparing for therapy page.

Aspects of therapy we are all capable of making a start on include:

  • Education – The more we understand OCD and how CBT works the better our chances of managing and overcoming it
  • Hierarchy – Create your OCD hierarchy, a list of anxiety provoking situations, most anxiety provoking at the top, least at the bottom
  • Small exposure exercises – If you feel up to it, you could try tackling one of your least anxiety provoking situation to get used to facing anxiety

To assist you in achieving some of these steps, you may want to access some self-help resources. There are many ways to educate yourself about OCD, with self-help materials often offering advice on how to apply CBT techniques. Self-help services include:

  • Self-help books
  • Support groups
  • Online discussion forums
  • Online OCD therapy courses

But choose wisely, the internet and social media is full of OCD material which isn’t always helpful or accurate. The same with OCD books, in recent years we have seen a deluge of OCD titles hit the shelves, some are interesting but not always helpful.

Self-help books

Knowledge really is power when it comes to OCD, so for the vast majority reading self-help books will be positive. Even if it does not help them get better, it should give them good grounding and knowledge for when their therapy starts.

Generally people don’t recover with self-help alone, one reason for this is that no matter how good the self-help material is, they are only helpful if the reader correctly interprets what they read. Self-help materials can also never replace the support and motivation given by a good therapist. But the more you understand OCD, the more you can make better use of your therapy once it starts.

Whilst we will all have our own favourite self-help book, sometimes users like to take chunks of helpful content from several books and create their own locker of helpful self-help text.The following books are all available from OCD-UK, Amazon and some Waterstones. All good bookshops can order them in using the ISBN code.

Break Free from OCD – This remains our favoured self-help book because it focuses on the cognitive aspect of CBT, not just the behavioural/exposure aspect that many books focus on.

Our full list of recommended reading (all by respected authors or OCD specialists), including the (ISBN):

  • Break free from OCD by Challacombe, Bream-Oldfield, Salkovskis. (0091939690)
  • The Beating OCD Workbook by Fitzgerald. (1473601347)
  • Overcoming Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder by Veale & Willson. (1849010722)
  • Pulling the trigger –OCD, Anxiety, Panic Attacks and Related Depressionby Shaw & Callaghan. (1911246003)
  • Brain Lock by Schwartz. (006256143X)

Some readers will want to learn more about OCD (especially family members) so sometimes books which are more factual about OCD may be helpful. The following books are aimed at health professionals, but are still readable by lay people:

(Video) CBT Self Help for OCD - Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

CBT for OCD

This book, written by the same authors as Break free from OCD, is actually aimed at therapists, but remains incredibly informative and if affordable, we encourage people to read it. Please just bear in mind it’s not written as a self-help book.

  • Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Obsessive-compulsive Disorder by Bream, Challacombe, Palmer & Salkovskis. (0198703260)
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (The Facts) by Rachman. (019956177X)
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (Palgrave Insights in Psychology) by Davey. (1137308680)

Some of our users are reluctant to buy products like books because of their actual OCD fears, for example some people feel they cannot receive books through the post. You can however, access many of the books online via Kindle which can be read via a Kindle device, or any smart phone or tablet.

Books on Prescription
OCD and Self-Help Resources | OCD-UK (3)Books on Prescriptionis a national scheme where GPs and other health professionals can recommend a self-help book which the patient can borrow from their local library for as long as they need it. The patient can choose from a range of self-help books which have proven value in helping people who suffer from common mental health problems such OCD. The Books on Prescription was already available in Wales, but in 2014 was also launched in England.

In June this year, theReading Well for mental health scheme was launched. Thenew booklist of 37 titles containing information, self-help and memoir with expert partners and offers guidance and support to those living with mental health needs and their carers, including OCD, but also other problems like stress, depression, anxiety, sleep problems and low self-esteem. The following titles available for OCD and BDD are:

  • Break Free from OCD by Challacombe, Oldfield and Salkovskis
  • Body Image Problems and Body Dysmorphic Disorder: The Definitive Treatment and Recovery Approach by Callaghan, O’Connor & Catchpole

Other books on prescription titles for anxiety and depression include:

  • Overcoming Depression and Low Mood by Williams, Chris
  • Mind Over Mood: Change How You Feel by Greenberger and Padesky
  • Overcoming Depression: A Self-help Guide by Gilbert
  • Overcoming Anxiety: A Self-help Guide by Kennerley
  • Overcoming Anxiety, Stress and Panic by Williams
OCD Support Groups and Discussion Forums

Other self-help resources include community led online forums and support groups. A good community group can make a real difference in guiding and helping people. However, not all groups are led with a positive recovery focus, and for that reason OCD-UK take great care only to list support groups which are run to approved standards.

OCD Discussion Forums

OCD and Self-Help Resources | OCD-UK (4)

(Video) 8 OCD Self Help Principles in 5 Minutes

The OCD-UK Discussion forums, which are free to use.

OCD-UK has its own discussion forums which are completelyFREEto use, with separate forums available for people with OCD and family members. It’s free to use and users can create an alias, so they can remain anonymous. Usually, even through the night, if someone posts a message seeking support, it is not unusual for them to receive at least one response within the hour.

Some added extras like the chat room are limited to OCD-UK members, but the support forums are free for all to use.The forum is fully moderated and you can register freely at:

To register, users need to visit the forums, register an account and then verify the account by clicking the automated link the system sends. At the moment users cannot register with @gmail.com accounts.

If you’re an OCD-UK member, please email us with your selected username and we will give your username full OCD-UK membership permissions to access the added areas of the forum.

OCD Support Groups

There are about 100 support groups around the UK, some are run by OCD-UK volunteers, others are run independently. On our website we have listed those we have endorsed. We make sure that we both train and support OCD-UK volunteers that want to run a support group, and we frequently fund meeting room hire for those groups from our limited resources.

Just like anyone can call themselves a therapist, anyone can start a support group, so we take great care to only list a support group once we have spoken to the facilitator and assured ourselves of the groups suitability.

To search for an OCD-UK approved support group they need to visit our map page on our support group page. This list is not exhaustive and there may be other OCD groups out there, but we only provide information for groups we have been asked to list and have been approved by our team.

Online CBT

There are some commercial online therapy courses that a person can follow for help.Like self-help books these are only helpful if the reader correctly interprets the meaning of the information, but can certainly be useful. Most tend to be ERP based rather than CBT based, but they’re still helpful resources.We cannot list the commercial programmes, but we can recommend the following non-commercial online CBT run by an American charity, Peace of Mind Foundation which was setup by OCD sufferer Liz McIngvale.
OCD and Self-Help Resources | OCD-UK (5)

(Video) OCD Self-Help Resources

Online OCD Tests

There are many online OCD tests, some flippant, but there are some that are intended to be serious self-diagnostic tools, even on the more respectable OCD websites. These are all notoriously unreliable and should not be taken as any kind of guide or indication that a person suffers with OCD or not. These kinds of online OCD tests are simply not accurate enough to even give a guide, and certainly not for formal diagnosis, so we recommend you always consult a trained health professional for a diagnosis.

What to read next:

What if therapy goes wrong

OCD Book Club

(Video) #LetsTalkAboutIt: How to overcome OCD?

Last Checked: 5th July 2018

Next Review Due: January 2021

Additional Reading:

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder or any other medical condition. OCD-UK have taken all reasonable care in compiling this information, but always recommend consulting a doctor or other suitably qualified health professional for diagnosis and treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder or any other medical condition.

(Video) 8. OCD Treatment: How to stop the thoughts! Part 1

FAQs

Can OCD be a coping mechanism? ›

When it comes to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a common mental health disorder in which a person has reoccurring thoughts and behaviors they continually repeat, avoidance is often used as a coping mechanism. People with OCD may try to avoid unwanted thoughts or situations that may trigger their obsessions.

How is OCD maladaptive? ›

OCD-related maladaptive beliefs such as threat overestimation, importance of thoughts and their control, inflated responsibility, intolerance of uncertainty and perfectionism increase the likelihood of catastrophic appraisals of common intrusive experiences (Obsessive Compulsive Cognitions Working Group, 1997, ...

What resources can help with OCD? ›

Organizations
  • International Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Foundation.
  • OCD Mid-Atlantic: The Mid-Atlantic Affiliate of the IOCDF.
  • Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
  • Association of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies.
  • Trichotillomania Learning Center.
  • OCD-UK.org.
  • BeyondOCD.org.
  • IntrusiveThoughts.org.

Is there an OCD helpline UK? ›

If you're struggling with obsessive, compulsive or intrusive thoughts, you should talk to someone. The CALM helpline is open from 5pm to midnight everyday to chat about whatever you're going through, or you can contact OCD UK for more information and guidance.

What feelings does a person with OCD have? ›

If you have OCD, you'll usually experience frequent obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours. An obsession is an unwanted and unpleasant thought, image or urge that repeatedly enters your mind, causing feelings of anxiety, disgust or unease.

How do I calm my OCD thoughts? ›

  1. Manage your stress. Stress and anxiety can make OCD worse. ...
  2. Try a relaxation technique. Relaxation can help you look after your wellbeing when you are feeling stressed, anxious or busy. ...
  3. Try mindfulness. You might find that your CBT therapist includes some principles of mindfulness in your therapy.

Is OCD a mental illness or disability? ›

Under the ADA it considers a disability to be “a physical or mental impairment” that limits someone's ability to functioning in daily activities. It includes OCD to be a disability.

Is OCD a disability or disorder? ›

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a common, chronic and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over.

Can OCD be a result of trauma? ›

The onset of OCD is not limited to the original meaning of trauma; rather, traumatic experiences such as unexpected exposure to contaminants or various stressful life events often cause the onset of OCD.

What is the most effective intervention for OCD? ›

Psychotherapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a type of psychotherapy, is effective for many people with OCD .

What is the most successful treatment for OCD? ›

The most effective treatments for OCD are Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and/or medication.

Can you claim disability for OCD UK? ›

If your mental health means you find it hard to work or do daily tasks, you could claim benefits.

Is OCD a disability UK? ›

In order to reduce the anxiety, the affected person will often engage in repeated actions or behaviours (compulsions). OCD is considered a disability under the Equality Act if it has an adverse and substantial long- term effect (lasting over twelve months) on a person's normal day-to-day activity1.

What is the root cause of OCD? ›

Experts aren't sure of the exact cause of OCD. Genetics, brain abnormalities, and the environment are thought to play a role. It often starts in the teens or early adulthood. But, it can also start in childhood.

What does an OCD episode look like? ›

Doubting and having difficulty tolerating uncertainty. Needing things orderly and symmetrical. Aggressive or horrific thoughts about losing control and harming yourself or others. Unwanted thoughts, including aggression, or sexual or religious subjects.

Does OCD affect empathy? ›

We found that patients with OCD exhibited a deficit in mentalizing ability (cognitive empathy) compared to the control subjects.

Can OCD lead to schizophrenia? ›

OCD is a common comorbid condition in those with schizophrenia and BD. There is some evidence that a diagnosis of OCD may be associated with a higher risk for later development of both schizophrenia and BD, but the nature of the relationship with these disorders is still unclear.

How do you break the OCD cycle? ›

25 Tips for Succeeding in Your OCD Treatment
  1. Always expect the unexpected. ...
  2. Be willing to accept risk. ...
  3. Never seek reassurance from yourself or others. ...
  4. Always try hard to agree with all obsessive thoughts — never analyze, question, or argue with them. ...
  5. Don't waste time trying to prevent or not think your thoughts.

Can I overcome OCD by myself? ›

The only way to beat OCD is by experiencing and psychologically processing triggered anxiety (exposure) until it resolves on its own—without trying to neutralize it with any safety-seeking action (response or ritual prevention).

Why is OCD so hard to overcome? ›

People with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) struggle to overcome their repetitious urges due to an inability to learn what kinds of stimuli are actually safe, new research suggests. OCD is a disorder where people feel compelled to repeatedly perform certain tasks or think particular thoughts.

Is OCD a type of autism? ›

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and OCD are two different conditions, however, it is true that some symptoms of autism overlap with those of other disorders, such as OCD, and can look similar (Højgaard et al. 2016).

Can you get PIP for OCD? ›

Note that you will still have to be able to show that you have been diagnosed with OCD or a similar mental health condition and you do in fact have behaviour which means you take much longer than a non-disabled person to complete daily living activities. Good strong evidence from people who know you will be needed.

Is OCD learned or genetic? ›

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a serious psychiatric disorder that affects approximately 2% of the populations of children and adults. Family aggregation studies have demonstrated that OCD is familial, and results from twin studies demonstrate that the familiality is due in part to genetic factors.

Does OCD have any benefits? ›

People who have OCD are usually very attentive and have great attention to detail. This trait can be useful in a number of different situations—in school, at work, while doing creative hobbies, and so on. In fact, most people go through life on autopilot, and attention to detail often falls by the wayside.

Does OCD count as special needs? ›

Although the law does not include OCD as a specific disability, children may be eligible to receive special education services through an “Other Health Impairment (OHI)” or “Emotional Disturbance (ED)” exception.

What if OCD goes untreated? ›

Left untreated, OCD can lead to other severe mental health conditions, such as anxiety and panic attacks, and depression. Untreated mental health conditions are also a significant source of drug and alcohol addiction. People will often turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with the distress of an untreated mental disorder.

What childhood trauma causes OCD? ›

Results: Emotional abuse, sexual abuse and neglect were highly prevalent in our sample. Additionally, the severity of experienced childhood maltreatment was associated with higher OCD symptom severity, with the strongest association found for emotional abuse.

Can parenting cause OCD? ›

PARENTING. As previously indicated, there is no evidence that the way parents guide or discipline their children causes OCD. Parents should not be blamed when a child exhibits symptoms of this disorder.

What does OCD do to the brain? ›

Studies show that OCD patients have excess activity in frontal regions of the brain, including the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), which could explain their intrusive thoughts and high levels of anxiety, respectively.

What are 3 treatments for OCD? ›

Treatments for OCD
  • Exposure Therapy. The psychotherapy of choice for the treatment of OCD is exposure and response prevention (ERP), which is a form of CBT. ...
  • Imaginal Exposure. ...
  • Habit Reversal Training. ...
  • Cognitive Therapy.

What exercises reduce OCD? ›

Research Has Shown Aerobic Exercise Can Reduce the Severity of OCD Symptoms.

What is classed as severe OCD? ›

Total severity scores are usually assumed to indicate the following levels of OCD: subclinical (0–7), mild (8–15), moderate (16–23), severe (24–31) and extremely severe (32–40).

How do I know if my OCD is severe? ›

Signs include: excessive hand washing, even if your skin is already raw. arranging objects in a precise way, even when it's not necessary or you should be doing something else. repeatedly checking doors, the stove, or other things to make sure they're off, even if it means you can't leave the house.

How do you treat OCD without medication? ›

Psychotherapy or talk therapy has been used effectively to treat OCD. This type of therapy works especially well when it is combined with medication. Your therapist may suggest cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to help with your OCD. Exposure and response prevention (ERP) is a type of CBT that works well for OCD.

What percentage of people with OCD get better? ›

Expected Duration/Prognosis: While OCD can be lifelong, the prognosis is better in children and young adults. Among these individuals, 40% recover entirely by adulthood. Most people with OCD have a marked improvement in symptoms with therapy while only 1 in 5 resolve without treatment.

What vitamin helps OCD? ›

Vitamin B12 and folate are thought to be effective in OCD treatment due to their associations with neurotransmitters. Depending on their antioxidant effect, zinc and selenium can be used in augmentation therapy for OCD. However, both trace elements and vitamin B12/folate can be affected by diet.

How does sugar affect OCD? ›

Processed, sugary foods like coffee cake may destabilize blood sugar resulting in increased anxiety. Panic disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD, are types of anxiety disorders.

Does food affect OCD? ›

Nutrition and OCD

The Western diet, high in sugar and processed foods, does not contain adequate nutrition required to manage OCD and support individuals experiencing symptoms. Research has shown that nutritional deficiencies are present in patients with mental disorders such as OCD10.

How does a doctor diagnose OCD for disability? ›

Qualifying for Disability Benefits Based on OCD

For you to get benefits for OCD, you must first have a diagnosis of OCD characterized by either an involuntary, time-consuming preoccupation with intrusive, unwanted thoughts or by repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing anxiety.

Can you drive with OCD UK? ›

You must tell DVLA if your obsessive compulsive disorder affects your driving. You can be fined up to £1,000 if you don't tell DVLA about a medical condition that affects your driving. You may be prosecuted if you're involved in an accident as a result.

Is it hard to get disability for OCD? ›

Because obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is more often characterized as a mental illness rather than physical, it can make getting disability approval more complicated. Your insurance company may limit or deny you your benefits unless you're able to prove a physiological cause for your condition.

Can I get a blue badge with OCD? ›

People living with mental health conditions will be entitled to Blue Badge parking permits from 2019 following a big overhaul of the disabled parking system.

Is DBS approved for OCD? ›

The FDA recently approved DBS for treatment-resistant OCD under a Humanitarian Device Exemption (HDE). The HDE approval assumes a relatively small number of patients will receive the treatment. The placement of the electrodes, and the decision about how much stimulation is given, is crucial.

Can the NHS help with OCD? ›

You can get treatment on the NHS through a GP. You can also refer yourself directly to an NHS psychological therapies service (IAPT) without a referral from a GP.

Can OCD get worse as you get older? ›

Symptoms fluctuate in severity from time to time, and this fluctuation may be related to the occurrence of stressful events. Because symptoms usually worsen with age, people may have difficulty remembering when OCD began, but can sometimes recall when they first noticed that the symptoms were disrupting their lives.

Does OCD show up on MRI? ›

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans conducted to compare the volumes of different brain regions in people with and without OCD have found smaller volumes of the orbitofrontal cortex and the anterior cingulate cortex in individuals with OCD.

Does OCD get worse when tired? ›

Sleep is particularly important for people with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a disorder marked by intrusive thoughts and compulsions. An exhausted brain can cause OCD symptoms to feel much worse.

Is OCD a coping mechanism for ADHD? ›

The way that OCD can manifest in those with ADHD is by acting as a coping mechanism and/or strategy to help be more efficient in their day-to-day tasks.

Can OCD create feelings? ›

We talk a lot about intrusive, unwanted thoughts that come with having OCD, but OCD is more than that. While everyone in the world has intrusive thoughts, individuals with OCD attach meaning to these thoughts which then evokes distressing emotions such as guilt, shame, disgust, anxiety, etc.

What is the psychological reason for OCD? ›

Stressful life events.

If you've experienced traumatic or stressful events, your risk may increase. This reaction may, for some reason, trigger the intrusive thoughts, rituals and emotional distress characteristic of OCD .

What does OCD look like in someone with ADHD? ›

Many people with ADHD become over-stimulated by the clutter and disorganization in their environment. This often results in anxiety, or simply shutting down. As a result, they may learn strategies to prevent clutter and disorganization that look like OCD behaviors, ie. arranging, ordering, checking.

What is the best medication for OCD and ADHD? ›

The most common class of effective medications is antidepressants, known as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). They include fluvoxamine (Luvox), sertraline (Zoloft), citalopram (Celexa), escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac), and paroxetine (Paxil).

Can OCD cause false desires? ›

However, this patient had a difficult time believing that. He would say, “But I feel this urge. It's physical!” I explained that sometimes OCD gives false physical urges, as well as false thoughts. I utilized Exposure and Response Prevention to treat his OCD, as I would in treating any other OCD content.

How do I stop OCD from ruining my life? ›

25 Tips for Succeeding in Your OCD Treatment
  1. Always expect the unexpected. ...
  2. Be willing to accept risk. ...
  3. Never seek reassurance from yourself or others. ...
  4. Always try hard to agree with all obsessive thoughts — never analyze, question, or argue with them. ...
  5. Don't waste time trying to prevent or not think your thoughts.

Is OCD caused by a chemical imbalance? ›

Is OCD Caused by a Chemical Imbalance? While studies in the past have shown possible links between chemical imbalances and deficiencies, including serotonin production issues, recent research has largely disproven any connection between an OCD diagnosis and chemical imbalances in the brain.

Is OCD genetic or learned? ›

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a serious psychiatric disorder that affects approximately 2% of the populations of children and adults. Family aggregation studies have demonstrated that OCD is familial, and results from twin studies demonstrate that the familiality is due in part to genetic factors.

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