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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a treatable anxiety disorder that occurs in approximately 2% of the population (or 1 in 50 people). Obsessions are intrusive thoughts or images that are unwanted and cause significant distress/anxiety. Compulsions are behaviors or rituals that are performed to reduce the distress/anxiety created by the obsessional thought or image. OCD symptoms may occur after a trauma or life changing event although often no precipitant can be identified. Symptoms may begin as early as childhood.

Most people with OCD have more than one type obsession or compulsion. Common themes are religious, sexual, harming, contamination, symmetry, somatic and safety which may lead to checking, touching, counting, repeating, hoarding, cleaning, ordering or praying. Obsessions lead to phobic avoidance of feared situations or events or to neutralizing strategies/rituals.

While any person may double check to make sure a door is locked or an iron is turned off, OCD sufferers usually devote an hour or more each day to their obsessions and compulsions. OCD significantly interferes with daily routines and affects work, school, family and social life. Some types of intrusive thoughts may seem like obsessions but in fact are excessive worries about real life problems so it is important to contact a mental health professional for the diagnosis.

The most effective treatment strategies are a combination of cognitive and behavior therapies plus medication(s).

Links:  For further information on OCD, please use the following websites and resources:
Obsessive Compulsive Foundation
Anxiety Disorders Association or America
"I'm soooo OCD" + Other Common Myths About Obessive Compulsive Disorder
Hoarding Disorder Fact Sheet