Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

More commonly known as OCD, this is a disorder that impacts about 1.2% of U.S. adults each year. Symptoms often present earlier in men than in women.

What is OCD?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, is a term that is colloquially used to refer to people who are obsessive with having things in their life a certain way. Most commonly, it is used when someone keeps a particularly tidy home. However, using the term in this way minimizes the reality of those who really do struggle with this mental illness.

OCD is a mental health issue that is identified by repetitive, unwanted, intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and irrational, excessive urges to do certain actions (compulsions). The individual knows that what they are thinking and doing does not make sense, but they cannot stop.

Signs & Symptoms of OCD

Obsessions (obsessive thoughts) and compulsions (compulsive behaviors) are the two components that signify this disorder. But what are obsessions and compulsions?

Obsessions are irrationally repetitive intrusive thoughts or impulses. Examples include thoughts of self-harm or harming others, repeated need to check if something was done right (is the door locked, the oven off, a light switched off, etc), and persistent fears of saying something inappropriate.

Compulsions are the behaviors that are repeated often to manage the stress caused by obsessions. These include acts such as flipping a light switch over and over, repeated hand washing, or excessively checking door knobs.

Diagnosing OCD

OCD-like behaviors can be brought on by illicit drugs, medications, other mental illnesses, or some medical conditions. For that reason, it is important to eliminate these other possibilities prior to providing a diagnosis for this disorder.

Treating Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

A combination of medication and psychotherapy are often used to treat individuals with OCD. The hope is that with effective talk therapy, individuals will eventually be able to be weaned off of medications. 


Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and exposure and response therapy (ERT) are among the most effective psychotherapies for OCD.


Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s) are the most common medication used to treat OCD.



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