What Is OCD?
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by recurrent, unwanted thoughts and/or repetitive behaviors that cannot be controlled, such as counting or frequent handwashing. Approximately 3.3 million American adults have the condition. Medications and behavioral therapy are common treatment methods. While the exact cause is unknown, it is not caused by family problems or attitudes learned in childhood.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder in which people suffer intensely from recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and/or repetitive behaviors (compulsions) that they feel they cannot control.
Repetitive behaviors, such as handwashing, counting, checking something, or cleaning, are often performed with the hope of preventing obsessive thoughts or making them go away. Performing these so-called "rituals," however, provides only temporary relief, and not performing them markedly increases anxiety.
If left untreated, obsessions and the need to carry out rituals can take over a person's life. OCD is often a chronic, relapsing illness.
Approximately 3.3 million American adults ages 18 to 54, or about 2.3 percent of people in this age group in a given year, have OCD. The first symptoms often begin during childhood or adolescence. The condition is equally common in males and females.
Symptoms of OCD
Symptoms of OCD can range from anxious thoughts and rituals, to a preoccupation with symmetry, to fear that you will harm the people close to you. Although most adults with the disorder recognize that their actions are senseless, they cannot stop themselves.
How Is It Treated?
Treatment typically includes medications and psychotherapy. The most commonly used medications are antidepressants. Behavioral therapy, which seeks to change a person's reactions to anxiety-provoking situations, is a form of psychotherapy frequently used for OCD treatment.