Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a common, chronic, and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, recurring thoughts (obsessions) and/or behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over.

Obsessions are repeated, persistent and unwanted thoughts, urges or images that are intrusive and cause distress or anxiety. These can include thoughts about excessive cleanliness, need for symmetry or exactness, or fears about harm to self or others.

Compulsions are repetitive behaviors or mental acts that a person feels driven to perform in response to an obsession or according to rules that must be applied rigidly. These behaviors or mental acts are aimed at preventing or reducing anxiety or distress, or preventing some dreaded event. However, these compulsive behaviors are not connected in a realistic way with what they are designed to prevent, or they are clearly excessive.


Examples of compulsive behavior can include excessive cleaning and/or hand-washing, ordering and arranging things in a particular precise way, compulsive counting, or repeatedly checking on things, such as repeatedly checking to see if the door is locked or that the oven is off.

It’s important to remember that while everyone double checks things sometimes, a person with OCD generally cannot control these obsessions or compulsions, spends at least 1 hour a day on these thoughts or behaviors, and doesn’t get pleasure when performing the behaviors or rituals, but may feel brief relief from the anxiety the thoughts cause. OCD, considered a neurobiological disorder, can interfere with all aspects of life, such as work, school, and personal relationships.

Causes of Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition that affects people of all ages. The exact cause of OCD is not known, but there are several theories:

1. Genetic Factors: OCD can run in families, suggesting a genetic component. However, not everyone with a family history of OCD will develop the disorder. Researchers believe that a combination of genetic and environmental factors can trigger the disorder.

2. Brain Structure and Functioning: Certain areas of the brain may not function normally in people with OCD. Neuroimaging studies have found differences in the front part of the brain – the orbitofrontal cortex, the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), and the caudate nucleus. These areas are involved in behavior regulation and the processing of unwanted thoughts, habits, and fears.

3. Neurotransmitters: Certain chemicals in the brain that transmit signals between neurons (serotonin, dopamine, and glutamate) might play a part in OCD.

4. Environmental Factors: Environmental stressors such as trauma or significant life changes may trigger OCD in people who are genetically predisposed to the disorder. Childhood trauma, abuse, or neglect may also increase the risk of developing OCD.

5. Cognitive Factors: Some people might have a tendency to have unwanted thoughts due to fears of harm or fear of making mistakes. They might use rituals to alleviate the distress caused by these thoughts, reinforcing the need for the rituals.

It’s important to note that OCD is a complex disorder with a variety of potential contributing factors, and more research is needed to determine its exact causes. If you or someone you know may be suffering from OCD, it’s crucial to seek professional help for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Risk Factors of Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a chronic and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and/or behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over. While the exact cause of OCD is not fully understood, studies have shown that a combination of biological, genetic, environmental, and psychological factors may be involved. Here are some specific risk factors:

1. Genetics: OCD may have a genetic component and can run in families, but specific genes have yet to be identified.

2. Brain Structure and Functioning: Some studies have shown differences in the frontal cortex and subcortical structures of the brain in patients with OCD, suggesting that these regions may play a role in the disorder.

3. Environment: People who have experienced abuse, trauma, or other negative life events may be more likely to develop OCD.

4. Age: OCD symptoms often begin in adolescence or early adulthood, usually before age 30.

5. Other Mental Disorders: Individuals with other mental disorders, such as depression, anxiety or tic disorders, are at higher risk for developing OCD.

It’s important to understand that these risk factors increase the likelihood of developing OCD, but they do not guarantee its onset. Mental health disorders are complex and often involve multiple interacting factors. A healthcare professional can provide a complete assessment and diagnosis. As OCD can significantly interfere with a person’s life, it’s crucial to seek help if needed.

Signs and Symptoms of Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, is a mental health condition characterized by unwanted and intrusive thoughts, images, or urges, known as obsessions, and repetitive behaviors or mental acts that the individual feels compelled to perform, known as compulsions.

The key signs and symptoms of OCD include:

1. Obsessions:
Constant, irrational worry about dirt, germs, or contamination.
Excessive concern with order, arrangement, or symmetry.
Fear of losing or not having things you might need.
Intrusive thoughts about harm, injury, or violence to oneself or others.
Disturbing sexual and/or religious thoughts.

2. Compulsions:
Excessive double-checking of things, such as locks, appliances, and switches.
Repeatedly checking in on loved ones to make sure they’re safe.
Counting, tapping, repeating certain words, or doing other senseless things to reduce anxiety.
Spending a lot of time washing or cleaning.
Arranging items to face a certain way.

3. Other Symptoms:
Significant distress or interference with work, social interactions, and daily activities caused by the obsessions and compulsions.
A tendency to hoard items of little or no value.

OCD symptoms can vary greatly from person to person and can also fluctuate in severity over time. If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, it is important to seek advice from a healthcare professional. Effective treatments for OCD are available including cognitive-behavioral therapy and certain types of medications.

Diagnosis Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, often referred to as OCD, is a chronic and long-lasting mental health disorder where a person has uncontrollable, recurring thoughts called obsessions and behaviors they feel compelled to perform called compulsions.

Obsessions are repeated thoughts, impulses, or images that cause anxiety. These may revolve around themes such as fear of germs or contamination, unwanted taboo thoughts involving harm to self or others, aggressive thoughts, and having things symmetrical or in perfect order.

Compulsions, on the other hand, are repeated behaviors that one feels driven to perform in response to an obsessive thought. These may include excessive cleaning or handwashing, ordering and arranging things in a certain way, repeatedly checking on things, such as repeatedly checking to see if the door is locked, and compulsive counting.

OCD is typically diagnosed when such obsessions and compulsions interfere with a person’s daily life and relationships, causing significant distress. The exact cause of OCD is not known, although it is believed to be tied to the functioning of the brain and possibly genetic and environmental factors.

Treatment for OCD commonly includes medication and mental health counseling. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), a type of psychotherapy, is often found to be effective. The goal of treatment is to control symptoms and equip the individual with coping mechanisms to manage their disorder.

Treatment of Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is typically treated with medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two. Here’s a brief explanation of each approach:

1. Medication: These are typically the first line of treatment for OCD. Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are often prescribed. These medications can help increase the concentration of serotonin in the brain, which can help reduce OCD symptoms.

2. Psychotherapy: Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is very effective for treating OCD. CBT is a type of therapy that aims to change patterns of thinking or behavior that are behind people’s difficulties. A specific technique in CBT used to treat OCD is known as Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). ERP helps an individual confront their fear or obsession without resorting to their compulsive behavior, gradually leading to less anxiety.

3. Combination of Medication and Psychotherapy: For many people, a combination of medication and psychotherapy is the most effective method for managing OCD symptoms.

Before starting a treatment plan, it’s necessary for a healthcare provider to conduct a thorough assessment to determine the severity of the OCD and whether there are any co-occurring psychological conditions. Each individual may respond differently to treatment, and what works best will depend on the person and their specific type of OCD. Treatment is often a trial-and-error process.

Remember, it’s important to reach out to a healthcare professional if you or anyone you know is struggling with OCD.

Medications commonly used for Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is often treated with medications, cognitive-behavioral therapy, or a combination of both. Here are some of the most commonly used medications:

1. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs): SSRIs are a type of antidepressant and are the most commonly prescribed medication for OCD. They help increase the levels of serotonin in the brain, which in turn helps to reduce OCD symptoms. Examples include fluoxetine (Prozac), fluvoxamine (Luvox), and sertraline (Zoloft).

2. Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs): Clomipramine (Anafranil), a type of TCA, was used for OCD treatment before SSRIs and can be highly effective. However, they are often reserved for cases where SSRIs have failed due to their side effects being more severe.

3. Atypical Antipsychotics: Medications like risperidone (Risperdal), quetiapine (Seroquel), and olanzapine (Zyprexa) are sometimes used in combination with SSRIs when traditional treatment methods have not been effective. They can help in reducing the severity of OCD symptoms.

4. Benzodiazepines: These are mainly used for treating anxiety and can be used in OCD, although they are not a first-line treatment because of their addiction potential and less effectiveness compared to SSRIs and TCAs.

Remember, effective treatment varies widely from person to person, and what works best may depend on individual symptoms, overall health, the presence of any co-existing mental or physical disorders, and the individual’s response to medication. Always consult a healthcare professional for appropriate treatment options.

These medications are not without side effects. These can range from mild discomfort, like nausea or headache, to more severe problems such as sexual dysfunction or serious withdrawal symptoms. Healthcare professionals will often carefully monitor these potential side effects to ensure the safest and most effective treatment regimen.

Prevention of Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a type of anxiety disorder that presents as recurring, unwanted thoughts or obsessions and repetitive, ritualized behaviors or compulsions. While the development of OCD is not entirely understood, certain factors such as genetics, brain structure, and life events can contribute to its development. However, ways to potentially help reduce the risk and prevent the development of OCD include:

1. Identify and manage stress: High levels of stress and anxiety can trigger the symptoms of OCD. By learning to better manage stress, one may be able to reduce the risk of developing OCD. This can be achieved through regular physical exercise, practicing mindfulness or meditation, getting sufficient sleep, and eating a healthy diet.

2. Seek help early on if you recognize the signs: Early intervention with mental health concerns can often prevent them from worsening. If you recognize symptoms of OCD such as recurrent, intrusive thoughts or the feeling a need to perform certain rituals or routines, seek professional help. A mental health professional can provide psychoeducation and early treatment which may prevent the full onset of the disorder.

3. Maintain a strong social support system: Isolation can often worsen mental health issues including OCD. It’s important to foster strong, supportive relationships with family and friends and to reach out if you’re feeling overwhelmed or troubled.

4. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is often beneficial in preventing the onset or worsening of OCD. This type of therapy helps individuals learn to identify and change thought patterns that lead to unwanted behaviors and feelings.

5. Family support and education: If someone in the family has OCD, it can be helpful for the family to be educated about the disorder. They can then better support the person, potentially reducing triggers or stressful scenarios that could exacerbate the condition.


While these measures can aid in reducing the risk of developing OCD, it’s important to note that they may not completely prevent its onset. If you or anyone you know has concerns about OCD, always consult with a mental health professional for appropriate guidance and treatment.

FAQ’s about Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

1. What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?
OCD is a mental health condition characterized by distressing, intrusive obsessions and time-consuming compulsions. Obsessions are ideas, images, or impulses that occur over and over again and feel outside of the person’s control. Compulsions are actions an individual engages in to attempt to get rid of the obsessions and/or decrease his or her distress.

2. What are the typical symptoms of OCD?
Key symptoms of OCD include recurring, persistent, and unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive behaviors or mental acts that an individual feels compelled to perform (compulsions). People with OCD may understand that their obsessions and compulsions are excessive or unreasonable, but they feel unable to control them.

3. What causes OCD?
The exact cause of OCD is unknown. However, there is evidence to suggest that it could be due to a combination of biological, genetic, environmental, and psychological factors. A family history of the disorder can increase one’s risk.

4. How is OCD diagnosed?
A diagnosis of OCD is usually made by a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist, through a clinical assessment. They would look at the person’s history of obsessions and compulsions, and how much these impact their life.

5. What are the treatment options for OCD?
OCD is typically treated with medication, psychotherapy or a combination of both. The most effective types of therapy are cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and exposure and response prevention (ERP). Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are also regularly used.

6. Is OCD a life-long condition?
Not always. Some people experience OCD symptoms for a limited period of time, while others may have it for a lifetime. It can vary greatly from person to person, and symptoms may vary in intensity over time. With proper treatment, many people with OCD can significantly control their symptoms.

7. Will OCD get worse if left untreated?
This can be the case for some individuals. Left untreated, OCD can develop into a severe condition that can impact all aspects of life, including work, school, and personal relationships.

8. Is OCD related to cleanliness or orderliness?
While cleanliness or orderliness can be a component of some individuals’ OCD, this is not the case for everyone with the disorder. Obsessions and compulsions can take a wide variety of forms beyond cleanliness.

9. Can children or teens have OCD?
Yes, OCD can start in childhood or adolescence. In fact, it often starts in these younger age groups. Early detection and treatment can be beneficial and potentially prevent the disorder from worsening.

10. Is it common to have other disorders along with OCD?
Yes, it is common for individuals with OCD to also have other mental health disorders, such as anxiety disorders, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or tic disorders.

Always remember to consult with a healthcare professional if you believe you or someone else may be experiencing symptoms of OCD.

Useful links

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, also known as OCD, is a mental health disorder characterized by recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and/or repetitive behaviors (compulsions). Here are some links to reputable scientific journals articles discussing various aspects of OCD:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36740346/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25150561/

Please note that these articles are subject to paywalls or subscription fees. If you are affiliated with a university or research institution, you may have complimentary access to these resources through your institution’s library.

Complications of Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a chronic condition that is associated with significant complications and negative impacts on quality of life if left untreated. Here are common complications:

1. Impaired Quality of Life: OCD can be debilitating and greatly affect a person’s quality of life. It may affect the person’s capability to function at school or work, or maintain healthy interpersonal relationships.

2. Physical Health Issues: The physical health problems may be related to compulsions. For instance, a person with a cleaning compulsion may have skin problems because of excessive washing, or a person with an eating disorder related to OCD may have associated health complications.

3. Mental Health Disorders: OCD often occurs along with other mental health disorders. These may include anxiety disorders, depression, eating disorders, substance abuse, personality disorders or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

4. Suicidal Thoughts and Behavior: Severe OCD can also lead to suicidal thoughts and behavior. The constant onslaught of intrusive thoughts and the stress born out of the irrational fear and guilt can take a serious toll on mental health pushing individuals towards thoughts of self-harm.

5. Tics: Some individuals with OCD might also have a disorder that causes involuntary tics. This might include sudden, rapid movements or sounds that they repeat over and over.

6. Inability to attend work or school: OCD can become so intrusive and time-consuming that it becomes impossible to fulfill job or school duties. It can even be disabling, preventing the person from holding down a job or pursuing an education.

7. Financial Problems: People with severe OCD may find it difficult to hold down a job, which could lead to financial problems.

Treatment for OCD typically includes a combination of medication, like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and cognitive-behavioral therapy with an emphasis on exposure and response prevention therapy, which can greatly improve the patient’s outcome and manage complications.

Home remedies of Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental health disorder that affects people of all ages and walks of life, and occurs when a person gets caught in a cycle of obsessions and compulsions. Essentially, they have recurring, unwanted thoughts, ideas, or sensations (obsessions) that make them feel driven to do something repetitively (compulsions).

While professional help is important in treating OCD, there are several home remedies that can assist in managing the symptoms:

1. Relaxation Techniques: Techniques such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation can help to reduce the anxiety and stress related to OCD.

2. Regular Exercise: Regular physical exercise can help to reduce symptoms of anxiety and improve mood.

3. Adequate Sleep: Lack of sleep may increase OCD symptoms. Good sleep hygiene involves having a regular sleep schedule, reducing caffeine intake, and creating a relaxing bedtime routine.

4. Balanced Diet: A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains will give the body the necessary nutrients needed for good mental health. Some studies suggest that certain vitamins (like vitamin B12 and vitamin D) can help reduce OCD symptoms.

5. Mindfulness and Cognitive Behavioral Techniques: Understanding the pattern of your obsessions and compulsions can help you gain control over them. Mindfulness exercises can guide you towards acceptance of unwanted thoughts and less anxiety-driven reactions.

6. Limit Alcohol and Avoid Nicotine and Caffeine: These substances can trigger or worsen anxiety symptoms and interfere with the effectiveness of prescribed medication.

7. Self-care Practices: Self-care practices like hot baths, reading, gardening, or any other leisurely activities can help in reducing stress, thereby helping manage OCD symptoms.

Remember, these home remedies can be supportive strategies alongside professional treatment, but they are not a substitute for professional help. It’s crucial to seek professional assistance if you or someone else is struggling with OCD.

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Mental Health,

Last Update: January 4, 2024