Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder in which a person has an excessive thought, fear, or worry (obsession) that they try to manage through a ritualized activity to help reduce the anxiety (compulsion”). Symptoms related to OCD often begins in adolescence or early adulthood, but can also first occur in childhood.
Common examples of this obsessive behavior include:
- An extreme preoccupation with dirt or germs
- Persistent thoughts of performing repugnant sexual acts
- Preoccupation with order or symmetry
- Repeated doubts, such as whether or not they have turned off the burners on a stove
- Spending long periods of time touching things or counting
- The need to have things in a very particular order
- Thoughts about violence or hurting someone
- Troubled by thoughts that are against personal religious beliefs
Common compulsions include:
- Following rigid rules of order and becoming upset if the order becomes disrupted, such as putting on clothes in the very same sequence every day, or alphabetizing the spices in the spice cabinet
- Repeatedly checking and rechecking to ensure that a door is locked or that the oven is turned off
- Repeated hand washing – often 100 or more times each day
The disorder is diagnosed when such activities:
- Are extremely distressing
- Consume a person at least one hour each day
- Interfere with daily life
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Your specialist may suggest you undergo CBT to help you manage the symptoms of OCD from a psychological standpoint.
Your specialist may prescribe a medicine or combination of medicines that can help control the obsessions and compulsions related to OCD.
Your specialist will conduct a comprehensive physical and mental examination – including gathering a thorough health history – to diagnose OCD.
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