Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder. The person suffers from unwanted repetitive thoughts and behaviors. These obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors are very difficult to overcome. If severe and untreated, OCD can destroy the ability to function at work, school, or home.
Obsessions—unwanted, repetitive, and intrusive ideas, impulses, or images
Compulsions—repetitive behaviors or mental acts to reduce the distress associated with obsessions
People with OCD may know that their thoughts and behaviors do not make sense. And they would like to avoid or stop them. But they are often unable to block their obsessive thoughts or compulsions.
- Persistent fears that harm may come to self or a loved one
- Unreasonable concern with being contaminated
- Unacceptable religious, violent, or sexual thoughts
- Excessive need to do things correctly or perfectly
- Persistent worries about a tragic event
- Excessive checking of door locks, stoves, water faucets, light switches, etc.
- Repeatedly making lists, counting, arranging, or aligning things
- Collecting and hoarding useless objects
- Repeating routine actions a certain number of times until it feels just right
- Unnecessary rereading and rewriting
- Mentally repeating phrases
- Repeatedly washing hands
OCD is usually diagnosed through a psychiatric assessment. OCD is diagnosed when obsessions and/or compulsions either:
- Cause a person significant distress
- Interfere with a person’s ability to properly perform at work, school, or in relationships
Source: The material presented here has been extracted from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: OCD by Amy Scholten, MPH published in Conditions and Procedures in Brief, 11/01/09