OCD – What is it?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a disorder characterized by anxiety, obsessions, and compulsions. It has the potential to become a disabling illness that traps the affected individual in endless cycles of repetitive thoughts, fears, images, and behaviors that they cannot control. The obsessive thoughts and fears produce anxiety which leads those who suffer from OCD to perform certain rituals or routines. The compulsive rituals are performed in an attempt to relieve the obsessive thoughts or make them go away. However, the compulsive rituals only temporarily alleviate the anxiety. This causes the ritual to be performed again when the obsessive thoughts return.


Although the exact cause of OCD is not fully understood, it has been established that OCD has a neurobiological basis. It is commonly believed that OCD is likely the result of a combination of neurobiological, genetic, behavioral, cognitive, and environmental factors.



ocdThe following are the most commonly reported systems of those that suffer from OCD

Obsessions — unwanted intrusive thoughts

  • Constant, irrational worry about dirt, germs, or contamination.
  • Excessive concern with order, arrangement, or symmetry.
  • Fear that negative or aggressive thoughts or impulses will cause personal harm or harm to a loved one.
  • Preoccupation with losing or throwing away objects with little or no value.
  • Excessive concern about accidentally or purposefully injuring another person.
  • Feeling overly responsible for the safety of others.
  • Distasteful religious and sexual thoughts or images.
  • Doubting that is irrational or excessive.

Compulsions — ritualistic behaviors and routines to ease anxiety or distress

  • Cleaning — repeatedly washing one’s hands, bathing, or cleaning household items, often for hours at a time.
  • Checking — Checking and re-checking several to hundreds of times a day that the doors are locked, the stove is turned off, the hairdryer is unplugged, etc.
  • Repeating — Inability to stop repeating a name, phrase, or simple activity (such as going through a doorway over and over).
  • Mental rituals — Endless reviewing of conversations, counting; repetitively calling up “good” thoughts to neutralize “bad” thoughts or obsessions; or excessive praying and using special words or phrases to neutralize obsessions