Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder in which a person has recurrent, unwanted thoughts, ideas, or sensations (obsessions) that make them feel driven to do something repetitively (compulsions). The repetitive behaviors, such as hand washing, checking on things, or cleaning, can significantly interfere with a person’s daily activities and social interactions. OCD often begins in childhood, adolescence, or early adulthood. Afflicting some 2.2 million Americans, OCD is equally common in men and women and knows no geographic, ethnic, or economic boundaries.


The frequent upsetting thoughts, characteristic of OCD,  are called obsessions. In an attempt to control them, a person will feel an overwhelming urge to repeat certain rituals or behaviors, called compulsions. People with OCD can't control these obsessions and compulsions. Most of the time, the rituals end up controlling them. Obsessions are recurrent and persistent thoughts, impulses, or images that cause distressing emotions such as anxiety or disgust. People with OCD recognize that the thoughts, impulses, or images are a product of their minds and are excessive or unreasonable. However, these intrusive thoughts cannot be settled by logic or reasoning. Most people try to ignore or suppress such obsessions, or to neutralize them with some other thought or action. Typical obsessions can include excessive concerns about contamination or harm, the need for symmetry or exactness, or forbidden sexual or religious thoughts.


Compulsions are repetitive behaviors or mental acts, that a person with OCD feels driven to perform, in response to an obsession. These behaviors are aimed at preventing or reducing distress or a feared situation. In the most severe cases, a constant repetition of rituals may fill the day, making a normal routine impossible. Compounding the anguish these rituals cause is the knowledge that the compulsions are irrational. Some examples are:

1. Cleaning

2. Repeating

3. Checking

4. Ordering and Arranging

5. Mental Compulsions

                                                         Who's at risk??

For many people, OCD starts during childhood or the teen years. Most people are diagnosed by about age 19. Symptoms of OCD may come and go and be better or worse at different times.

OCD affects about 2.2 million American adults. It strikes men and women in roughly equal numbers and usually appears in childhood, adolescence, or early adulthood. One-third of adults with OCD develop symptoms as children, and research indicates that OCD might run in families.


1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy-Cognitive behavioral therapy is a common type of mental health counseling (psychotherapy). With cognitive behavioral therapy, you work with a mental health counselor (psychotherapist or therapist) in a structured way, attending a limited number of sessions. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps you become aware of inaccurate or negative thinking, so you can view challenging situations more clearly and respond to them in a more effective way

2. Medication-serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs) is effective in the treatment of OCD.

                                                        After Treatment?

OCD patients who have received appropriate treatment have shown to have increased quality of life and improved functioning. Treatment does more than affect symptoms alone. Successful treatment may improve the individual's ability to attend school, work, develop and enjoy relationships and pursue leisure activities.

                                         Community Support and Resources

Anxiety Disorders Association of America

8730 Georgia Avenue, Suite 600

Silver Spring, MD 20910

Tel: (240) 485-1001
Fax: (240) 485-1035


Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies

305 Seventh Avenue, 16th Floor

New York, NY 10001

Tel: (212) 647-1890 
Fax: (212) 647-1865


National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Public Information and Communications

6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 8184, MSC 9663

Bethesda, MD 20892-9663

Tel: (301) 443-4513, Toll-free: (866) 615-NIMH (6464

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder                                                              

                                                               Self Test


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