Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), is acommon, chronic, and long-lasting anxiety disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and/or behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over such as hand washing, counting, checking, or cleaning are often performed with the hope of preventing obsessive thoughts or making them go away.
Performing these activities however, provides only temporary relief, and not performing them terribly increases anxiety. Excessive thoughts (obsessions) lead to repetitive behaviours (compulsions).
OCD often centres on themes such as a fear of germs or the need to arrange objects in a specific manner. Symptoms usually begin gradually and vary throughout life.
Signs and 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
- 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 hand washing
- 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
Not all of these habits are compulsions. Everyone double checks things sometimes. But 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
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.
Sometimes people with OCD also have other mental disorders, such as depression, body dysmorphic disorder (a disorder in which someone mistakenly believes that a part of their body is abnormal) etc.
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