By Kayla Baresich
What It Is
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by repetitive thoughts and behavior. People with OCD experience uncontrollable recurring thoughts (called obsessions) that lead them to do certain actions to make them go away (compulsions). People with OCD cannot control their obsessions and must act on their compulsions to temporarily rid themselves of them. This leads to cycles that may even interfere with the activities of daily life.
What are the symptoms of OCD?
People with OCD may experience:
- Fear of dirt or germs
- Fear of causing harm to others
- Fear of making mitsakes
- Fear of behaving in a socially unacceptable manner
- Fear of thinking thoughts deemed wrong
- Need for organization
- Excessive doubt
- Repeated cleaning routines
- Refusal to touch others
- Repeated checks of things
- Constant counting
- Constant organization
- Inability to shake off disturbing thoughts
- Repeating words, letters, and phrases
- Having to do things a certain number of times
- Hoarding or collecting
- 3.3 million adults have OCD
- 1 million children have OCD
- OCD can affect anyone, regardless of sex, race, background, and age.
A diagnosis of OCD is made by a doctor after an assessment of your symptoms.
OCD is treated with cognitive behavioral therapy and medication. In extreme cases where these treatments do not help, electroconvulsive therapy or psychosurgery can help.