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"What is Covert OCD or 'Pure O'?"

Covert Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (or “Pure O”) differs from other types of OCD as it primarily involves mental responses to intrusive thoughts rather than physical actions. People with Covert OCD often use mental habits like avoidance, rumination, thinking rituals, and self-reassurance to cope with the distress caused by these thoughts.

Internally, individuals with Covert OCD struggle between worrying about worst-case scenarios and dismissing their thoughts as irrational. This leads to a cycle where intrusive thoughts cause distress, followed by attempts to alleviate it through mental activities, only for the cycle to repeat again and again.

Covert OCD typically involves obsessions around fears relating to the areas of sex/relationships, violence, dangers/disasters, past actions, religion or existential questions. This is not a comprehensive list and there are many other common presentations. Triggers can provoke distressing thoughts, urges, or doubts that cause an immediate need for safety, certainty, and relief.

Differentiating Covert OCD from regular stress can be challenging, as both can affect mood, behaviour and relationships.

Covert OCD can affect anyone, and cases have been reported in children as young as 4 years old. Many people suffer for years before seeking support and even then sadly many medical professionals and therapists are still not familiar with this hidden form of obsessive-compulsive behaviour.

If you're struggling with Covert OCD, consider a free 20-minute consultation to explore tailored treatment options to help you work towards a more comfortable inner world.

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