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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) affects about 1 percent of the population. This disorder is characterized by unwanted and intrusive thoughts that provoke anxiety and interfere with functioning. Obsessions are recurrent and persistent thoughts, urges or impulses that are experienced as intrusive and unwanted and cause marked anxiety or distress. Attempts are made to suppress the thoughts, urges or images or to neutralize them with compulsions. Compulsions are repetitive behaviors or mental acts that the individual feels driven to perform in response to an obsession. The acts are not realistic in terms of what they are designed to neutralize or prevent, such as counting to 30 to prevent an accident from happening.

Symptoms may include:

  • Repeated thoughts or images such as such as fear of germs, dirt or intruders; acts of violence; hurting loved ones; sexual acts; conflicts with religious beliefs; or being preoccupied with cleaning
  • Repeated rituals such as washing hands to skin irritation, locking and unlocking doors, counting, keeping unneeded items or repeating the same steps
  • Inability to control the unwanted thoughts and behaviors
  • Brief relief from performing the behaviors or rituals that is not sustained
  • Spending at least one hour a day on the thoughts and rituals, which cause distress and get in the way of daily life

OCD is generally treated with behavioral or cognitive psychotherapy, medication or a combination of the two.

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Members of the Asher Center for the Study and Treatment of Depressive Disorders provide clinical care through Feinberg-affiliate care sites. Visit our Patient Care page for more information.

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With research participants' help, we are able to able to better understand, diagnose and develop treatment for depressive disorders. Browse our clinical trials to participate and help test new treatments.

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