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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a type of mental illness. People with OCD can have either obsessive thoughts and urges or compulsive, repetitive behaviors. Some have both obsessions and compulsions.

The disorder can affect your job, school, and relationships and keep you from living a normal life. Thoughts and actions are beyond your control.

An obsessive thought, for example, is to think that a thing has to be done in a same way every day or something bad will happen. A compulsive habit might be for example to wash your hands 7 times after touching something that might be dirty. Although you do not want to do these things, you feel helpless to stop.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a common, chronic and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Symptoms:

People with OCD may have symptoms of obsessions, compulsions, or both. These symptoms can interfere with all aspects of life, such as work, school, and personal relationships.

Obsessions are repeated thoughts, urges, or mental images that cause anxiety. Common symptoms include:

  • Fear of germs or contamination
  • Unwanted forbidden or taboo thoughts 
  • Aggressive thoughts towards others or self
  • Having things symmetrical or in a perfect order

Compulsions are repetitive behaviors that a person with OCD feels the urge to do in response to an obsessive thought. Common compulsions include:

  • Excessive cleaning and/or handwashing
  • Ordering and arranging things in a particular, precise way
  • Repeatedly checking on things, such as repeatedly checking to see if the door is locked or that the oven is off
  • Compulsive counting

A person with OCD generally:

  • Can’t control his or her thoughts or behaviors, even when those thoughts or behaviors are recognized as excessive
  • Spends at least 1 hour a day on these thoughts or behaviors
  • Doesn’t get pleasure when performing the behaviors or rituals, but may feel brief relief from the anxiety the thoughts cause
  • Experiences significant problems in their daily life due to these thoughts or behaviors

Some individuals with OCD also have a tic disorder. Motor tics are sudden like eye blinking , facial grimacing, shoulder shrugging, and head or shoulder jerking.

Symptoms may come and go, ease over time, or worsen. Parents or teachers typically recognize OCD symptoms in children.

If you think you have OCD, talk to your doctor about your symptoms. If left untreated, OCD can interfere in all aspects of life.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Causes:

Doctors aren’t sure why some people have OCD. OCD is slightly more common in women than in men. Symptoms often appear in teens or young adults. Stress can make symptoms worse.

You are more likely to get the disorder if you have:

  • A parent, sibling, or child with OCD
  • Depression, anxiety or tics
  • Experience with trauma
  • A history of physical or sexual abuse as a child

Treatments and Therapies

There’s no cure for OCD. Your doctor may prescribe medicine, send you to talk therapy, called psychotherapy, or both. OCD is typically treated with medication, psychotherapy or a combination of the two. Although most patients with OCD respond to treatment, some patients continue to experience symptoms.

If you are prescribed a medication, be sure you:

  • Do not stop taking a medication without talking to your doctor first. 
  • Report any concerns about side effects to your doctor right away.


Psychotherapy can be an effective treatment for adults and children with OCD.

Source: nimh, webmd