Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

A person with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is caught in a pattern of repeated thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions). These thoughts and behaviors are unwelcome, difficult to overcome and cause much distress. They are also very time-consuming, and interfere with normal daily functioning at home, work or in social situations.

OCD is a type of anxiety disorder that usually begins in adolescence or early adulthood. Originally thought to be rare, more recent studies indicate that approximately 2.4 million Americans are affected. It is equally common in females and males.

Signs of OCD

Obsessions -- Recurrent and persistent thoughts, ideas, images or impulses that are intrusive and unwanted are called obsessions. These thoughts are often unpleasant and disturbing. Common obsessions include ceaseless worries about dirt or germs; continual doubt, repeatedly wondering whether an act has been completed, i.e., locking the door before going to bed. Obsessions are also evident as a need to have things in a particular order.

Compulsions -- Repeated behaviors or mental acts, such as counting, that are intentional but clearly excessive and unreasonable are called compulsions. These behaviors are usually performed in a very specific way for the purpose of reducing the discomfort and anxiety that occurs with obsessions. The most common compulsions involve hand-washing, bathing, cleaning, counting or touching certain objects, checking things to be sure something was done, and rearranging objects in a specified way.

Many persons with OCD are secretive and reluctant to seek help. They realize the thoughts and behaviors are excessive and not reasonable, and they fear what others may think of them.

If you or someone you know appears to suffer from the signs of OCD, call for help.