Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is an anxiety disorder in which people may have repeated and unwanted thoughts, feelings, ideas, sensations, or urges that make them feel driven to do something repeatedly. Most often these people carry out the behaviors to get rid of the obsessive thoughts, but this only provides them with temporary relief. Not performing these actions or "rituals" can cause the person great anxiety. OCD is more common than people once thought it was. Most people who have OCD begin to show symptoms by the age of 30. There have been many theories about what causes OCD, but none have been confirmed. Some reports have connected OCD with head injuries and even infections. Several studies have shown that people with OCD may have brain abnormalities, but more research is needed to prove it. Almost 20% of people with OCD also have tics, which could possibly connect it to Tourette Syndrome; however it is unclear.


  • Obsessions or compulsions that are not due to medical illness or drug use.
  • Fear of being contaminated by shaking hands or by touching objects others have touched
  • Doubts that you've locked the door or turned off the stove
  • obsessive-compulsive-disorder-behavior.jpgThoughts that you've hurt someone in a traffic accident
  • Intense stress when objects aren't orderly or facing the right way
  • Images of hurting your child
  • Impulses to shout obscenities in inappropriate situations
  • Avoidance of situations that can trigger obsessions, such as shaking hands
  • Dermatitis because of frequent hand washing
  • Skin lesions because of picking at your skin
  • Hair loss or bald spots because of hair pulling
  • Hand washing until your skin becomes raw
  • Checking doors repeatedly to make sure they're locked
  • Checking the stove repeatedly to make sure it's off
  • Counting in certain patterns
  • Arranging your canned goods to face the same way

How Can This Interfere In Everyday Life?

Many people with OCD look to get rid of these compulsions and obsessions. Some of the risks of having OCD going untreated is possible alcohol or drug abuse, or even anorexia. Because of the person's inability to cope with the disorder they could turn to things such as alcohol or starving themselves. If a patient with OCD has a fear of germs, they may continuously wash their hands and cause the skin to break down. Someone with OCD may have trouble getting sleep or relaxing because they're constantly worrying or obsessing about things they think they forgot to do, such as lock all the doors in the house. Not doing the rituals or giving into the compulsions could cause the person severe anxiety, which could make the person more stressed about other things such as work or school. The person may have a hard time trying to stop these rituals because as they try not to give into the urges, the more they feel the need to do it. OCD could affect a persons relationships with friends and family because they become so consumed by the obsessions and compulsions that they cannot focus on anything else, or acknowledge their friends or family. Hoarding can also be caused by the OCD and the person may begin to store or keep everything they buy and not throw any of it away. This can cause extremely bad living conditions and cause tension between friends and relatives because they want the person to get help, but the person may not want it. OCD can cause many problems in everyday life.


Treatments for OCD usually includes medications and therapy.
When treating a patient, the first thing they try is an
antidepressant called a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI).
These medications include:

  • Citalopram (Celexa)
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • Fluvoxamine (Luvox)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft)

One of the most effective type of therapy for this disorder is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). The patient can be exposed to situations that trigger the obsessive thoughts and learn to cope with the anxiety and resist the urge to perform the ritual or compulsion. This therapy along with medication is proved to be the most effective treatment for reducing symptoms.



The average onset age of OCD is 19.

OCD affects about 2.2 million American adults every year.

About 2.3% of the population between ages 18-54 suffers from OCD.

Half of the people with OCD in the US are considered severe cases.

Less than 10% of people suffering from OCD, are in treatment.

Most people with OCD will go years (6 to 9) before seeking any form of treatment.

Around 1/3 to 1/2 of all sufferers will find that their OCD has
roots in childhood, some will even show signs in their pre-school years.

About 1 out of 200 adults have OCD, and twice as many have had

OCD at 1 point or another in their life.


Word Bank

Anxiety: distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune
Brain Abnormality: A complication or problem; something unusual in the brain.
Hoarding: The acquisition of possessions (and failure to use or discard them) in excess of socially normative amounts, even if the items are worthless, hazardous, or unsanitary.
Tourette Syndrome: A syndrome that deals with involuntary movements and vocal outbreaks called tics.


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