Anxiety Home > Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder often plagues a person with persistent, unwelcome thoughts or images, or by the urgent need to engage in certain rituals. Depression or other anxiety disorders may accompany the condition, and some people also have eating disorders. While the exact causes are still unknown, the condition can often be successfully treated through medications and behavioral therapy.

What Is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

"I couldn't do anything without rituals. They invaded every aspect of my life. Counting really bogged me down. I would wash my hair three times as opposed to once because three was a good-luck number and one wasn't. It took me longer to read because I'd count the lines in a paragraph. When I set my alarm at night, I had to set it to a number that wouldn't add up to a 'bad' number.
"Getting dressed in the morning was tough, because I had a routine, and if I didn't follow it, I'd get anxious and would have to get dressed again. I always worried that if I didn't do something, my parents were going to die. I'd have these terrible thoughts of harming my parents. That was completely irrational, but the thoughts triggered more anxiety and more senseless behavior. Because of the time I spent on rituals, I was unable to do a lot of things that were important to me.
"I knew the rituals didn't make sense, and I was deeply ashamed of them, but I couldn't seem to overcome them until I had therapy."

What Causes It?

The cause or causes of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are still not fully understood. There is, however, some evidence that abnormal functioning of the brain's circuitry may be one of the potential causes of the condition.
(Click Causes of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder for more information.)
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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