What is OCD?

What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a neurobiological condition characterized by obsessions and/or compulsions (typically both) that interfere with important activities and relationships. Obsessions are unwanted, recurrent, and intrusive thoughts that occur involuntarily.

These thoughts typically cause anxiety and doubt. Compulsions occur in response to the distress caused by obsessions. In an attempt to find relief from this distress, people experiencing OCD will often engage in repetitive behaviors or rituals. Unfortunately, this relief is usually only temporary and, over time, reinforces the cycle of anxiety.

Common obsession include:

  • fear of dirt, germs, or illness
  • fear of causing harm to self or others
  • fear of offending God
  • concern regarding sexuality
  • concern regarding sexual inappropriateness
  • fear of making a mistake/perfectionism
  • concern regarding symmetry

Common compulsions include:

  • excessive and/or ritualized hand washing, showering, and cleaning
  • excessive checking, reassurance seeking, rehearsing actions
  • excessive praying and/or confession
  • avoiding anxiety provoking situations
  • rereading, rewriting, and/or excessive erasing
  • mental reviews and avoidance of triggers