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Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

OCD is an anxiety disorder characterized by uncontrollable, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive behaviours (compulsions) you feel you must perform. These obsessions and compulsions interfere with daily activities and cause distress. You may try to ignore or stop the obsessions, but that only increases distress and anxiety. People who have OCD usually recognize that their thoughts and behaviours are irrational, but are still unable to resist them.

It’s important to know that there are many options for treatment. Having a strong support system of family and friends, managing stress, and getting enough exercise can be effective in minimizing symptoms. Professional help (psychotherapy with a mental health professional), medication, and family therapy.

 

What is normal?

It’s normal to sometimes second-guess yourself and go back and check that the stove is off, or to worry that you might be contaminated by germs. There are also a lot of people who would describe themselves as “perfectionists”.  But if you suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder, obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours become so consuming they interfere with your daily life. 

 

What are common signs and symptoms?

Obsessive thoughts in OCD often include:

  • Fear of being contaminated by germs or dirt, or contaminating others
  • Fear of losing control and harming yourself or others
  • Intrusive sexually-explicit or violent thoughts and images
  • Excessive focus on religious or moral ideas
  • Fear of losing or not having things you might need
  • Order and symmetry: the idea that everything must line up “just right”
  • Superstitions, and excessive attention to something considered lucky or unlucky

 

Compulsive behaviours in OCD often include:

  • Excessive double-checking of things like locks and switches
  • Repeatedly checking in on loved ones to make sure they’re safe
  • Counting, tapping, repeating certain words, or doing other senseless things to reduce anxiety
  • Spending a lot of time washing or cleaning
  • Ordering or arranging things “just so”
  • Praying excessively or engaging in rituals triggered by religious fear
  • Accumulating “junk” like old newspapers or empty food containers

 

Should I seek help?

If your obsessions and compulsions affect your quality of life, see your doctor or mental health professional for help. Also, since OCD can get worse if you feel powerless and alone, it’s important to build a strong support system. The more connected you are to other people, the less vulnerable you’ll feel.

24 Program(s)

IWK Mental Health and Addictions Program

IWK
This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

The IWK Mental Health and  Addictions Program provides specialized care throughout the province for children and youth up until their 19th birthday within a patient and family...

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Children / Youth

Canadian Mental Health Association - Colchester East Hants Branch

This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

The Canadian Mental Health Association, Colchester East Hants Branch provides public education, advocacy, and a resource center to support the resiliency and recovery of...

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Adults / Seniors

Canadian Mental Health Association - Halifax-Dartmouth Branch

This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

The Canadian Mental Health Association, Halifax-Dartmouth Branch works at the community level and facilitates access to the resources people require to maintain and improve...

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Adults / Seniors

Canadian Mental Health Association - Nova Scotia Division

This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

Canadian Mental Health Associations in Nova Scotia are the oldest community-based mental health and addictions charitable organizations in the province, founded in 1908. The...

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Adults / Seniors

Healthy Minds Cooperative

This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

Healthy Minds Cooperative is an innovative mental health cooperative that provides a variety of peer-based services to people with lived experience of mental health issues and...

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Adults / Seniors

Hope for Wellness HelpLine

This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

The Hope for Wellness HelpLine offers immediate mental health counselling and crisis intervention to all Indigenous peoples across Canada. Experienced and culturally competent...

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Adults / Seniors / Youth
First Nations, Indigenous

Eskasoni Mental Health

This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

Eskasoni Mental Health Services (EMHS) provides a wide range of services to the Mi’kmaq people of Eskasoni, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. The Tui'kn Residential School Survivor...

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Adults / Seniors / Youth
First Nations, Indigenous

Caregivers Nova Scotia

This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

Caregivers Nova Scotia provides free programs, services, information, and advocacy for family and friend caregivers. We are dedicated to providing recognition and practical assistance to friends and family giving care.

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Adults / Seniors
Caregiver, Family

211

211
This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

211 is a free, confidential information and referral service that can connect you to thousands of programs and services offered by local community groups, nonprofits and government departments across Nova Scotia, 24/7.

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Adults / Children / Seniors / Youth

Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services - Mental Health Programs and Services

This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services (CFMWS) is responsible for administering Non-Public Property (NPP) on behalf of the Chief of the Defence Staff and for delivering...

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Adults / Seniors
Canadian Forces, RCMP

Veterans Affairs Canada Assitance Service

This program is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Program Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the program provider.

Veterans Affairs provide targeted services and benefits to improve well-being including support and services related to your physical and mental health and wellness.The VAC...

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Adults / Seniors
Canadian Forces, RCMP

Health Psychology

Health Psychology offers psychological interventions for those with chronic and acute health conditions. The main focus is on the patient's mental and emotional reaction to an illness or their recovery from an illness.

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Adults

Geriatric Psychiatry Acute Inpatient Unit

The Geriatric Psychiatry Acute Inpatient Unit is for individuals over the age of 65 with a new onset of mental illness or for individuals of any age with dementia and complicated medical and/or psychological symptoms.

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Seniors

Geriatric Psychiatry Outpatient Program

Seniors mental health services provide assessment, consultation and treatments to:

  • seniors aged 65 and older for a new onset of mental health challenges
  • individuals of...

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Seniors

Adult Neurodevelopmental Stabilization Unit - Dual Diagnosis Program (Intellectual Disability in combination with Mental Illness)

The Adult Neurodevelopmental Stabilization Unit (ANSU) is an acute care unit that provides services for persons with intellectual disability and acute mental illness that...

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Adults

Community Outreach Assessment Support and Treatment Team (COAST) - Dual Diagnosis Program (Intellectual Disability in combination with Mental Illness)

The community outreach assessment support and treatment team provides services for persons with both intellectual disability and also mental illness. These services include:

...

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Adults

Seniors Mental Health Services

Seniors mental health services provide assessment, consultation and treatments to:

- seniors aged 65 and older for a new onset of mental health challenges;
- individuals of...

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Seniors

School Mental Health (SchoolsPlus)

The school mental health clinicians provide individual and group therapy, mental health and addictions education for school staff and consultation services. Clinicians are on...

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Children / Youth

Provincial Mental Health and Addictions Crisis Line

The Provincial Mental Health and Addictions Crisis Line provides crisis intervention for children, youth and adults experiencing a mental health crisis or mental distress.

...

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Adults / Children / Seniors / Youth

Inpatient Mental Health Services

Inpatient mental health services are available for those who cannot be safely assessed, diagnosed and stabilized in the community. 

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Adults / Seniors

First Nations Services

Mental Health clinicians work as part of the first nations health care team in several first nations communities. The Mental Health Clinician provides assessment, diagnosis...

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Adults / Children / Seniors / Youth
First Nations, Indigenous

Crossroads Clubhouse

Crossroads Cape Breton is community organized to support people living with mental illness in reclaiming and enhancing their lives. People are referred to as “members” because...

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Adults / Seniors

Adult Community Mental Health and Addictions Services

Community Mental Health and Addictions includes a team of mental health and addictions professionals who provide services on an outpatient basis. The team provides assessment...

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Adults / Seniors

Child and Adolescent Services

Child and Adolescent Services/Child Youth and Family/Child and Adolescent Outpatient Clinical Services provide mental health and addiction services to children and youth...

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Children / Youth

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