Obsessive Compulsive & Related Disorders

What is Obsessive Compulsive and Related Disorder?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder in which people have recurring, unwanted thoughts, ideas or sensations (obsessions) that make them feel driven to do something repetitively (compulsions). The repetitive behaviours, such as hand washing, checking on things, or cleaning, can significantly interfere with a person's daily activities and social interactions.

The cause of Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is unknown but has been linked to biological (genetics, brain structure, altered brain chemicals, etc.) and environmental (upbringing, negative personal experiences, etc.) factors.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a type of anxiety disorder that can strike at any age but often begins in early adult life. The illness afflicts 2-3% of the population in all economic brackets and all races and religions, during any given year. It can overwhelm their lives, making them unable to work, socialize, or enjoy family life.

Signs and Symptoms

Typical Obsessions:

- Fear of getting contamination by people or the environment

- Unwanted forbidden or taboo thoughts involving sex, religion, and harm

- Aggressive thoughts towards others or self

- Having things symmetrical or in a perfect order

- Recurrent intrusive thoughts of sounds, images, words or numbers

- Fear of losing or discarding something important

Typical Compulsions:

- Excessive cleaning and/or handwashing

- Ordering and arranging things in a particular, precise way

- Repeatedly checking on things

- Compulsive counting

- Constantly seeking approval or reassurance

Patients with OCD who receive appropriate treatment commonly experience an increased improved quality of life and improved functioning. Treatment may improve an individual's ability to function at school and work, develop and enjoy relationships, and pursue leisure activities.