Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder that affects people of all ages. People with OCD report recurring, unwanted thoughts, ideas, or sensations (obsessions) that compels them to do something repetitively (compulsions). The repetitive behaviors, such as hand washing, checking on things, or cleaning, can significantly interfere with a person’s daily activities and social interactions. These obsessive-compulsive acts may take more than one hour per day and for some people, it may last through the day significantly impairing important areas of functioning.
Signs and Symptoms:
Signs and Symptoms that people with OCD may have include obsessions, compulsions, or both. These symptoms can interfere with all aspects of life, such as work, school, personal relationships, and other important areas of functioning.
Obsessions are repeated thoughts, urges, or mental images that cause anxiety, these may include, but not limited to, the following symptoms:
- Fear of germs or contamination
- Fear of touching doorknobs, using public toilets, or shaking hands
- Unwanted forbidden or taboo thoughts involving sex, religion, or harm
- Aggressive thoughts towards others or self
- Having things symmetrical or in a perfect order
Compulsions are excessive repetitive behaviors or actions that a person with OCD feels the urge to do in response to an obsessive thought, rigid set of rules, rituals. Common compulsive actions include:
- Excessive cleaning and/or handwashing
- Ordering and arranging things in a particularly, precise way
- Repeatedly checking on things, such as repeatedly checking to see if the door is locked or to check that the oven is turned off.
- Compulsive counting or reciting words
Not all rituals or habits are compulsions. Everyone double checks things sometimes. But a person with OCD generally:
- Is distressed by his or her thoughts or behaviors, even when those thoughts or behaviors are recognized as excessive
- Spends at least 1 hour a day consumed by these thoughts or behaviors
- Unable to get pleasure when performing these behaviors or rituals, but may feel brief relief from the anxiety caused by the obsessive thoughts
- Experiences significant distress in their daily life due to these thoughts or behaviors
Some individuals with OCD may develop other conditions such as Tic disorder. Motor tics are sudden, brief, repetitive movements, and may manifest as eye blinking and other eye movements, facial grimacing, shoulder shrugging, and head or shoulder jerking. Common vocal tics include repetitive throat-clearing, sniffing, or grunting sounds.
Symptoms may fluctuate over time, and may also ease over time, or worsen. People with OCD may try to help themselves by avoiding situations that trigger their obsessions, or they may use alcohol or drugs to calm themselves. Although most adults with OCD recognize that what they are doing does not make sense, some adults and most children may not realize that their behavior is out of the ordinary. Parents or teachers typically recognize OCD symptoms in children.
Treatment for OCD is Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) at usually higher doses and for up to 12weeks, and Psychotherapies Exposure and Response Prevention (EX/RP).