Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder in which a person can’t stop thinking about something (obsesses) and does an action repeatedly (compulsively) in order to relieve the anxiety. Usually obsessions and compulsions are related, for example, worrying about germs and washing one’s hands repeatedly.
How common is it?
OCD is more common than was previously thought. It is estimated that the prevalence of OCD among adults in the US is 1% in 2005.
What are the risk factors for OCD?
Factors that can contribute to the development of OCD include, genetic predisposition (family genes), stressful life events, age (OCD generally begins in early childhood), and personality factors (for example, shy children are at greater risk).
What are the signs and symptoms of OCD?
Excessive or unreasonable worry about something and excessive or unreasonable repetitions of a particular behavior (rituals or compulsions).
What is the treatment?
OCD is most effectively treated with a combination of talk therapy (in particular, cognitive behavioral therapy) and medication (for example, an SSRI such as Prozac).
Three myths about this disorder:
Myth: OCD is a personality flaw in people who are just being picky or fussy or anal.
Fact: Being fussy is not OCD. The obsessions and compulsions of people with OCD cause serious distress, are time-consuming (more than 1 hour per day), and interfere with normal routines, such as work, social activities, or relationships with others.
Myth: OCD is caused by stress, so people with OCD just need to learn to relax and stop obsessing.
Fact: OCD is a fully accepted, debilitating, chronic psychiatric disorder that has been classified by the psychiatric community, and is treatable. Although the causes of OCD are unclear, stress can exacerbate OCD symptoms.
Myth: OCD behavior is caused by a dysfunctional childhood or poor self-esteem.
Fact: The causes of OCD are not entirely clear. Studies suggest that at least one chemical messenger in the brain, serotonin, may be associated with OCD.
Two famous people who have suffered this disorder: