Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder in which some people have recurring, unwanted thoughts, ideas or sensations (obsessions) that make them feel driven to do something repetitively (compulsions). The repetitive behaviours, such as hand washing, checking on things or cleaning, can significantly interfere with a person’s daily activities and social interactions. If certain routines and behaviours are not done, this can cause great distress. Even if they know their obsessions are not true, people with OCD have a hard time keeping their focus off the obsessions or stopping the compulsive actions.

Sign and Symptoms of OCD:

  • Cleaning to reduce the fear that germs, dirt, or chemicals will “contaminate” them. Some people spend many hours washing themselves or cleaning their surroundings.
  • Repeating to dispel anxiety. Some people utter a name or phrase or repeat a behaviour several times. They know these repetitions won’t actually guard against injury but fear harm will occur if the repetitions aren’t done.
  • Checking to reduce the fear of harming oneself or others by, for example, forgetting to lock the door or turn off the gas stove, some people develop checking rituals. Some people repeatedly retrace driving routes to be sure they haven’t hit anyone.
  • Ordering and arranging to reduce discomfort. Some people like to put objects, such as books in a certain order, or arrange household items “just so,” or in a symmetric fashion.
  • Some compulsions to response to intrusive obsessive thoughts may be to; silently pray, say phrases to reduce anxiety or prevent a dreaded future event.

Related Conditions

Other conditions sharing some features of OCD occur more frequently in family members of OCD patients. These include, for example, body dysmorphic disorder (preoccupation with imagined ugliness), hypochondriasis (preoccupation with physical illness), trichotillomania (hair pulling), some eating disorders such as binge eating disorder, and neurologically-based disorders such as:

  • Tourette’s syndrome
  • Hoarding Disorder
  • Skin-Picking Disorder (Excoriation)
  • Body Dysmorphic Disorder
  • Hair-Pulling Disorder (Trichotillomania)

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