Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Overview of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common disorder characterized by recurring, unwanted thoughts, ideas, or sensations (obsessions) that make them feel driven to do something repetitively (compulsions). Individuals with OCD are unable to stop the compulsions even if they may know that their thoughts and behaviors don’t make sense. These behaviors can significantly interfere with one’s work, relationships, and daily life. However, for those struggling with OCD, there is hope as treatment is available and has been proven to be beneficial for many.


Obsessions are recurrent and persistent thoughts, impulses, or mental images that can cause anxiety. Common symptoms include:

  • Extreme concern with order, symmetry, or precision
  • Doubts about having done something right, like locking a door
  • Disturbing sexual thoughts or images
  • Fear of germs or contamination
  • Thoughts about harming or having harmed someone

Compulsions are repetitive behaviors that a person with OCD feels driven to do in response to an obsessive thought. Common compulsions include:

  • Constantly seeking approval or reassurance
  • Excessive cleaning and/or handwashing due to fear of germs
  • Ordering or arranging things in a specific, precise way
  • Repeatedly checking locks, switches, or appliances


Treatment may vary but plans commonly include:

  • Psychotherapy
    • Cognitive behavioral therapy is often used as it helps teach individuals how to better understand and control obsessive thoughts and compulsions.
    • Exposure response and therapy helps teach individuals how to respond to the anxiety associated with obsessions and not respond with the compulsion.
  • Medication
    • Antidepressants can be helpful for many in controlling obsessions and compulsions.