Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a type of anxiety disorder that affects approximately 1 percent of the population. This disorder is characterized by unwanted and intrusive thoughts (obsessions) that provoke anxiety and interfere with functioning. In response to these obsessions, an individual may develop certain behaviors (compulsions) that they feel compelled to do to lessen the anxiety caused by the obsessions. Symptoms may include:
- Repeated thoughts or 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
- Doing the same rituals over and over such as washing hands, locking and unlocking doors, counting, keeping unneeded items, or repeating the same steps again and again
- Inability to control the unwanted thoughts and behaviors
- Inability to get pleasure when performing the behaviors or rituals, but get brief relief from the anxiety the thoughts cause
- 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 psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of the two.
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