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Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

What is obsessive-compulsive disorder?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder in which a person has an unreasonable thought, fear, or worry that he or she tries to manage through a ritualized activity to reduce the anxiety. Frequently occurring disturbing thoughts or images are called obsessions, and the rituals performed to try to prevent or dispel them are called compulsions.

What are obsessions, as they relate to OCD?

Obsessions are irrational thoughts, fears, or worries that frequently recur and cause great anxiety, but cannot be controlled through reasoning. Common obsessions include the following:

  • an extreme preoccupation with dirt or germs
  • repeated doubts (for example, about having turned off the burners on a stove)
  • a need to have things in a very particular order
  • thoughts about violence or hurting someone
  • spending long periods of time touching things or counting
  • preoccupation with order or symmetry
  • persistent thoughts of performing repugnant sexual acts
  • troubled by thoughts that are against personal religious beliefs

Although an individual with an obsession realizes that the thoughts are unreasonable and not related to real-life problems, this knowledge is not enough to make the unwanted thoughts go away.

In an attempt to get rid of the obsessive thoughts, people with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) engage in compulsive behavior.

Treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder:

Specific treatment for OCD will be determined by your physician based on:

  • your age, overall health, and medical history
  • extent of the disease
  • your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • expectations for the course of the disease
  • your opinion or preference