MORE than 350 Lake Macquarie residents battling with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) could benefit from a new support group.
The Belmont OCD Support Group is the first of its kind in Lake Macquarie.
The free monthly group is open to people who have been diagnosed with, or think they might have the disorder, which manifests itself in the form of unwanted thoughts, images or impulses, often causing anxiety.
Support group co-facilitator Samantha knows these symptoms all too well.
Ten years ago she had what she thought was a heart attack.
The 32-year-old mother of two in fact had a panic attack, which stemmed from her undiagnosed disorder.
While medical help was readily available, she found there was no social support.
"I think a lot of people who have [the disorder] don't like to publicly announce it," she said.
"It can be very isolating."
Last year Samantha approached the Mental Health Association NSW, hoping to start a local support group.
The association funds the Belmont support group and supports its meetings.
The group discuss coping techniques, medication and experiences.
(Sarah and Samantha did not wish to publish their surnames for professional reasons.)
■ The Belmont OCD Support Group's next meeting is Wednesday, July 2, 6.30pm, at the Belmont Neighbourhood Centre.