Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)


Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is characterized by unreasonable thoughts and fears (obsessions) that lead you to do repetitive behaviors (compulsions). It’s also possible to have only obsessions or only compulsions and still have OCD.

With OCD, you may or may not realize that your obsessions aren’t reasonable, and you may try to ignore them or stop them. But that only increases your distress and anxiety. Ultimately, you feel driven to perform compulsive acts in an effort to ease your stressful feelings.

OCD often centers on themes, such as a fear of getting contaminated by germs. To ease your contamination fears, you may compulsively wash your hands until they’re sore and chapped. Despite efforts to ignore or get rid of bothersome thoughts, the thoughts or urges keep coming back. This leads to more ritualistic behavior — and a vicious cycle that’s characteristic of OCD.

  • Repeated thoughts or images about many different things, such as fear of germs, dirt, or intruders; acts of violence; hurting loved ones; sexual acts; conflicts with religious beliefs; or being overly tidy;
  • Doing the same rituals over and over such as washing hands, locking and unlocking doors, counting, keeping unneeded items, or repeating the same steps again and again;
  • Inability to control unwanted thoughts and behaviors;
  • Lack of pleasure when performing the behaviors or rituals, but brief relief from the anxiety the thoughts cause;
  • Spending at least 1 hour a day on the thoughts and rituals, which can cause distress and get in the way of daily life.

For more information on OCD, please visit the NIMH website.

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