Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

People 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. Some spend hours at a time performing complicated rituals involving hand-washing, counting, or checking to ward off persistent, unwelcome thoughts, feelings, or images.

Obsessions — unwanted intrusive thoughts
  • Constant, irrational worry about dirt, germs, or contamination.
  • Excessive concern with order, arrangement, or symmetry.
  • Fear that negative or aggressive thoughts or impulses will cause personal harm or harm to a loved one.
  • Preoccupation with losing or throwing away objects with little or no value.
  • Excessive concern about accidentally or purposefully injuring another person.
  • Feeling overly responsible for the safety of others.
  • Doubting that is irrational or excessive.
Compulsions — ritualistic behaviors and routines to ease anxiety or distress
  • Cleaning — Repeatedly washing one’s hands, bathing, or cleaning household items, often for hours at a time.
  • Repeating — Inability to stop repeating a name, phrase, or simple activity (such as going through a doorway over and over).
  • Hoarding — Difficulty throwing away useless items such as old newspapers or magazines, bottle caps, or rubber bands.
  • Touching and arranging— Need to touch objects and or put them in a particular arrangement i.e. alphabetically.
  • Mental rituals — Endless reviewing of conversations, counting; repetitively calling up “good” thoughts to neutralize “bad” thoughts or obsessions; or excessive praying and using special words or phrases to neutralize obsessions.

Obsessions and rituals associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder can interfere with a person’s normal routine, school work, job, family, or social activities. Several hours every day may be spent focusing on obsessive thoughts and performing seemingly senseless rituals. Trying to concentrate on daily activities may be difficult. Left untreated, OCD can interfere with all aspects of life.