Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common anxiety disorder. It causes unreasonable thoughts, fears, or worries. A person with OCD tries to manage these thoughts through rituals.
Frequent disturbing thoughts or images are called obsessions. They are irrational and can cause great anxiety. Reasoning doesn’t help control the thoughts. Rituals or compulsions are actions that help stop or ease the obsessive thoughts.
Experts aren’t sure of the exact cause of OCD. Genetics, brain abnormalities, and the environment are thought to play a role. It often starts in the teens or early adulthood. But, it can also start in childhood. OCD affects men and women equally. It appears to run in families.
Other anxiety problems, depression, eating disorders, or substance abuse may happen with OCD.
Obsessions are unfounded thoughts, fears, or worries. They happen often and cause great anxiety. Reasoning does not help control the obsessions. Common obsessions are:
While you may know that the thoughts are unreasonable and not due to real-life problems, it’s not enough to make the unwanted thoughts go away.
Compulsions are repetitive, ritualized acts. They are meant to reduce anxiety caused by the obsession(s). Examples are:
Compulsive acts can become excessive, disruptive, and time-consuming. They may interfere with daily life and relationships.
People may avoid situations in which they might have to face their obsessions. Some try alcohol or drugs to calm themselves.
OCD is diagnosed during a physical and psychiatric exam when obsessions and compulsions:
Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Your healthcare provider will figure out the best treatment based on:
Treatment may include:
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