OCD is typically characterized by unwanted, intrusive and often distressing thoughts or images entering your mind that trigger anxiety.
It is not the occurrence of these thoughts that causes OCD – unwanted, intrusive or distressing thoughts are things that everyone experiences. It is the anxiety and the following response to them that is the source of the OCD. The response to these thoughts will have one of two themes:
- Because I have thought it means I have done it / it has happened
- Because I have thought it means I want to do it / want it to happen
It is this interpretation of the thoughts that produces the anxiety, from which, follows a behavior which acts as an attempt to cope. These behaviors may be repetitive or compulsive acts that you feel driven to perform to control the anxiety.