Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Definition: The American Psychiatric Association defines Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) as the presence of obsessions, compulsions, or both. Children and adults with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) suffer from unwanted and intrusive thoughts that they can't seem to get out of their heads (obsessions), often compelling them to repeatedly perform ritualistic behaviors and routines (compulsions) to try and ease their anxiety.

Most people who have OCD are aware that their obsessions and compulsions are irrational, yet they feel powerless to stop them.

Symptoms: People with OCD sometimes spend hours at a time performing complicated rituals to ward off persistent, unwelcome thoughts, feelings, or images.

Examples of obsessions (unwanted, intrusive thoughts) may include:

Examples of compulsions (ritualistic behaviors and routines to relieve anxiety or stress) may include:

Causes: Despite a lot of research, a cause for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder has not been identified. However, OCD is believed to be triggered by a combination of neurological, genetic, behavioral, and environmental factors. Studies have shown that OCD can run in families.

Treatment: Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a serious, yet treatable anxiety disorder that often appears with other types of anxiety disorders, such as depression. Successful treatment usually includes a combination of behavior therapy, such as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy, and medication. Treatment needs to be individualized especially if there are other anxiety disorders present.