Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder . The person suffers from unwanted repetitive thoughts and behaviors.

  • Causes

    The cause is of OCD is unknown. OCD may be due to neurobiological, environmental, genetic, and psychological factors. An imbalance of a brain chemical called serotonin may play a major role.

    Genetic Material
    Chromosome DNA
    The genes that you inherit from your family may play a role in the development of OCD.
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  • Definition


    Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an
    anxiety disorder
    . The person suffers from unwanted repetitive thoughts and behaviors.

  • Diagnosis

    OCD is usually diagnosed through a psychiatric assessment. OCD is diagnosed when obsessions and/or compulsions either:

    • Cause significant distress
    • Interfere with your ability to properly perform at work, school, or in relationships

  • Prevention

    There are no guidelines for preventing OCD because the cause is not known. However, early intervention may be helpful.

  • Risk Factors

    Factors that may increase the risk of OCD include:

    • Age: late adolescence, early adulthood
    • Family members with a history of OCD

  • Symptoms

    Symptoms may include:


    • Obsessions—unwanted, repetitive, and intrusive ideas, impulses, or images; common obsessions include:

      • Persistent fears that harm may come to self or a loved one
      • Unreasonable concern with being contaminated
      • Unreasonable concerns about safety
      • Unacceptable religious, violent, or sexual thoughts
      • Excessive need to do things correctly or perfectly
      • Persistent worries about a tragic event

    • Compulsions—repetitive behaviors or mental acts to reduce the distress associated with obsessions; common compulsions include:

      • Excessive checking of door locks, stoves, water faucets, and light switches
      • Repeatedly making lists, counting, arranging, or aligning things
      • Collecting and hoarding useless objects
      • Repeating routine actions a certain number of times until it feels right
      • Unnecessary rereading and rewriting
      • Mentally repeating phrases
      • Repeatedly washing hands

    Conditions associated with OCD include:

    • Other anxiety disorders
    • Depression
    • Organic brain syndrome
    • Tourette syndrome
    • Attention deficit disorder

    If you have OCD, you may know that your thoughts and compulsions do not make sense, but you are unable to stop them.

  • Treatment

    Treatment reduces OCD thoughts and compulsions, but does not completely eliminate them. Common treatment approaches include a combination of medication and therapy.