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Obsessive Thoughts

What are obsessive thoughts?

Obsessions are specific thoughts that are intense and intrusive. It can feel like your thoughts are taking over and controlling your behaviour.

Compulsions are ritual behaviours that people use to try to reduce anxiety linked to intrusive thoughts.

We all experience obsessive and impulsive thoughts from time to time, especially when we are feeling anxious. Some people with additional needs such as autism, ADHD and attachment needs are more likely to experience obsessive and impulsive thoughts. In some cases, but not all, these thoughts can be symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD?

If have OCD, you might experience the following things:

  • your mind being 'invaded' by horrible thoughts repeatedly
  • feeling scared, disgusted, guilty, tearful, doubtful or depressed
  • a powerful urge to do something to stop the feelings
  • temporary relief after rituals
  • a need to ask for reassurance or get people to check things for you

Just because you experience one or more of these symptoms, it doesn’t mean you’re definitely affected by OCD.

There is a misconception that ‘being OCD’ is just about being tidy and ordered. This is not true. OCD thoughts can come in all shapes and sizes and involve lots of different types of habits and rituals. They often revolve around things like danger, dirt and contamination, or worries around sexuality or religion. Some people feel guilty, or even ashamed of their thoughts.

If you are worried about your thoughts, talk to someone or check out our Get Help pages. You are not alone.

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Get Help Now

Here are a list of services that can help with obsessive thoughts. The icons below tell you the type of support available.

  • In person In person

Nottingham City CAMHS


age Under 18

  • In person In person

Nottinghamshire County CAMHS


age Under 18

  • Email Email
  • Phone Phone
  • Web chat Web chat


City and County

age All Ages

  • Email Email
  • Web chat Web chat

OCD Youth

City and County

age Under 25

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Which services can I access?

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