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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?

Everyone double checks things sometimes. For example, you might double check to make sure the stove or iron is turned off before leaving the house. But people with OCD feel the need to check things repeatedly, have certain thoughts or perform routines and rituals over and over. The thoughts and rituals associated with OCD cause distress and get in the way of daily life.
The frequent upsetting thoughts are called “obsessions”. To try to control them, a person will feel an overwhelming urge to repeat certain rituals or behaviors called “compulsions”. People with OCD can't control their obsessions and compulsions.

For many people, OCD starts during childhood or in their teen years. Most people are diagnosed by about age 19. Symptoms of OCD may come and go and be better or worse at different times.

Symptoms of OCD

Individuals with OCD generally:

  • Repeat thoughts or visualize images about many different things, such as fear of germs, dirt, or intruders; acts of violence, hurting loved ones, sexual acts, conflicts with religious beliefs, or being overly tidy.
  • Perform the same actions over and over such as washing hands, locking and unlocking doors, counting, keeping unneeded items, or repeating the same steps again and again.
  • Cannot control the unwanted thoughts and behaviors.
  • Spend at least one hour a day on the thoughts and rituals, which cause distress and get in the way of daily life.
  • What causes OCD?

OCD sometimes runs in families, but no one knows for sure why some people have it, and others do not. Researchers have found that several parts of the brain are involved in fear and anxiety.

OCD Treatment

OCD is treated with psychotherapy, medication, or both. Therapy teaches a person different ways of thinking, behaving, and reacting to situations that help them feel less anxious or fearful without having obsessive thoughts or acting compulsively. Medication may be prescribed to help treat the anxiety and depression which often accompanies OCD.

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