What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a profoundly debilitating mental health disorder where individuals are trapped in a relentless cycle of distressing thoughts (obsessions) and compulsive rituals.

The obsessions can range from fears of contamination (such as a fear of germs) to irrational doubts, causing relentless anxiety. Despite the temporary relief offered by compulsions like excessive hand washing or rechecking, the cycle persists, consuming hours of one’s time. OCD’s grip extends beyond the mind, straining relationships and hindering occupational and personal pursuits.

The World Health Organization ranks Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder among the top 10 most disabling conditions (IOCDF, About US – International OCD Foundation).

The World Health Organization ranks Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder among the top 10 most disabling conditions (IOCDF, About US – International OCD Foundation).


Understanding Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Understanding Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder can manifest in many ways, impacting different aspects of your life. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, you are not alone:

  • 1

    Intrusive Thoughts: Persistent and unwanted thoughts, images, or impulses that cause distress. Examples include: fears of contamination, doubts about safety, or disturbing and taboo themes.

  • 2

    Compulsive Behaviors: Repetitive actions performed to alleviate anxiety or prevent perceived harm. Common compulsions include excessive hand washing, checking, counting out loud, or arranging.

  • 3

    Mental Rituals: Internal mental rituals such as: repeating certain words, counting mentally, or engaging in mental review, are typically done to neutralize intrusive thoughts or prevent harm.

  • 4

    Heightened Anxiety: Intense feelings of fear, anxiety, or distress triggered by obsessions or when unable to perform compulsions. The anxiety can become overwhelming, typically impacting daily functioning and overall well-being.

  • 5

    The Need for Certainty: Urgent desire for reassurance or absolute certainty, often leading to the repeated seeking of validation or excessive research to alleviate anxiety and doubt.

  • 6

    Symptoms are Time Consuming: OCD symptoms can consume a significant amount of time in one’s daily life, interfering with daily responsibilities, relationships, and personal enjoyment.

It is important to remember that OCD symptoms vary in intensity and presentation for each person. Understanding the debilitating nature of this disorder is vital for empathy and early intervention. Effective treatment can help individuals regain control and find relief. If you resonate with any of these symptoms, seeking professional support can help you navigate the challenges and find effective strategies for managing OCD.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder therapy

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Treatments

cause of obsessive compulsive disorder
cause of obsessive compulsive disorder
obsessive compulsive disorder treatments
obsessive compulsive disorder treatments

International OCD Foundation Resources


Aardema, F., Bouchard, S., Koszycki, D., Lavoie, M. E., Audet, J.S., & O’Connor, K. (2022). Evaluation of inference-based cognitive-behavioral therapy for obsessive-compulsive disorder: A multicenter randomized controlled trial with three treatment modalities. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 91(5), 348–359. https://doi.org/10.1159/000524425

Abramowitz, J. S., Taylor, S., & McKay, D. (2009). Obsessive-compulsive disorder. The Lancet, 374(9688), 491-499.

IOCDF. “About US – International OCD Foundation.” Www.Iocdf.Org, iocdf.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/IOCDF-Fact-Sheet-10-5-18.pdf.

Pittenger, C., & Bloch, M. H. (2014). Pharmacological treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder. The Psychiatric clinics of North America, 37(3), 375–391. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psc.2014.05.006

Romanelli, R.J., Wu, F.M., Gamba, R., Mojtabai, R. and Segal, J.B. (2014), Behavioral therapy and serotonin reuptake inhibitor pharmacotherapy in the treatment of obsessive–compulsive disorder: a systematic review and meta-analysis of head-to-head randomized controlled trials. Depression and Anxiety, 31: 641-652. https://doi.org/10.1002/da.22232

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