Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

     Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a condition that involves obsessions (recurring and anxiety provoking thoughts) and/or compulsions (repetitive behaviors with intention of reducing anxiety) (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).


     Obsessions tend to be "persistent thoughts, urges, or images" that are unwanted and create anxiety or distress (American Psychiatric Association, 2013, p. 237). Individuals with obsessions try to ignore or suppress these thoughts (American Psychiatric Association, 2013) and common obsessions involve worrisome thoughts about the individual or a loved one's health/safety, fear about doing/saying the wrong thing in public, the occurrence of a disaster, emphasis on symmetry, and the possibility of making a mistake.


     Compulsions are repetitive behaviors that tend to be applied rigidly and ritualistically (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). The goal of these behaviors is to reduce the anxiety or distress, usually created by the obsessions. For example, a person who has Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) with an obsessive worry about germs and getting sick might wash her/his/zis hands 50-100 times per day. Other common examples of compulsions include counting (e.g., steps taken), re-checking behavior (e.g., making sure the doors are locked), putting items in their proper place, and an over-emphasis on touching things an equal number of times with right and left parts of the body. Hoarding (the refusal to dispose of household waste and items of little value) is another example of a compulsion.

     The presence of obsessions and/or compulsions tends to be time-consuming and make functioning difficult in relationships, at work, in school, etc. (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) only impacts about 1.2% of the population and is about equal for females and males (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). The average age of onset is 20 years (American Psychiatric Association, 2013), so post-high school and college aged population is a critical time for this condition. Treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) usually involves a combination of medication and psychotherapy. This combined approach addresses the physical and psychological causes of the disorder. However, the course of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is typically chronic unless the individual receives treatment and comorbidity with other disorders (e.g., Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Phobia) is common. If you think you might have symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), call to schedule an initial consultation appointment for further assessment.


American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.