Diagnosing obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) 

It is very important you visit your GP if you have symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

The impact of OCD on your day-to-day life can be reduced if the condition is diagnosed and effectively treated.

Many people with OCD do not report their symptoms to their GP because they feel ashamed or embarrassed. They may also try to disguise their symptoms from family and friends.

However, if you have OCD, you should not feel ashamed or embarrassed. Like diabetes or asthma, OCD is a long-term health condition, and it is not your fault you have it.

If you think a friend or family member may have OCD, it's a good idea to talk to them carefully about your concerns and suggest they seek medical advice.

Initial questions

Your GP will probably ask you a series of questions to determine whether it's likely you have OCD.

These may be similar to the following:

  • Do you wash or clean a lot?
  • Do you check things a lot?
  • Do you have thoughts that keep bothering you that you would like to get rid of but cannot?
  • Do your daily activities take a long time to finish?
  • Are you concerned about putting things in a special order or are you upset by mess?
  • Do these problems trouble you?


If the results of the initial screening questions suggest you have OCD, the severity of your symptoms will be assessed either by your GP or a mental health professional.

There are several different methods of assessment. All involve asking detailed questions to find out how much of your day-to-day life is affected by obsessive-compulsive thoughts and behaviour.

During the assessment, it is important you are open and honest, as accurate and truthful responses will ensure you receive the most appropriate treatment.

OCD is classified into three levels of severity:

  • mild functional impairment  obsessive thinking and compulsive behaviour that occupies less than one hour of your day
  • moderate functional impairment  obsessive thinking and compulsive behaviour that occupies one to three hours of your day
  • severe functional impairment  obsessive thinking and compulsive behaviour that occupies more than three hours of your day

Healthcare professionals use the term "functional impairment" to refer to the disruption of your daily activities.

Page last reviewed: 27/10/2014

Next review due: 27/10/2016