Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a type of mental disorder. It is not limited to a certain age but can affect any person at any time. It basically is a disease in which a person starts to lose control over their actions and give away to a certain number of compulsions. They become a slave to a small voice that tends to get larger with time. Plus, the voice forces them to a certain thing in a certain way; otherwise, the voice will not go away. Failing to do so will result in distress, uneasiness, and despair.

Most people face some sort of obsession in their life regarding some matter or the other. This process is completely normal and slight act of compulsions does not make a person a patient. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is not only limited to habits, for example: biting nails, putting objects in a certain way, etc. A person can be determined as a patient of obsessive-compulsive disorder when a cycle of compulsions1 get so worse that it starts to affect their lives and consume a lot of time and energy.

An obsessive thought can get to the point where patients start to believe that either someone they care about or they themselves will consequently get hurt because the patients did not out the jar of cookies in a certain way. Patients, with the passage of time, lose control over themselves.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder causes:

To this date, doctors have not been able to pinpoint the exact cause of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Something is usually considered off in some part of the brain, but no one knows for sure that what it might be. However, more female patients have been reported than male when it comes to obsessive-compulsive disorder. Doctors have suggested that it can be a gene related disease, which maybe it is hereditary but, no one knows for sure.

The most common causes that several experts have agreed upon are:

  • If someone has had a history of physical or sexual abuse.
  • If someone has a close blood relative with the obsessive-compulsive disorder.
  • If someone suffers from depression, anxiety, or tics.
  • If someone has been through a devastating trauma.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder symptoms:

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) usually starts small. One can pass it off as someone being a bit too careful or immaculate in their general life. Patients of OCD have at times been let go on the basis of being naturally too clean, or too organized. It is only if one keeps a close eye on things will they be able to realize that a lot of their thoughts and needs do not make sense. The actions of obsessive-compulsive disorder patients do not come out of joy or enjoyment, rather the inability to rest or feel anxious until a certain task is done a certain way.

The symptoms usually appear in teenagers or young adult rather than the adults or elderly. Obsessive-compulsive disorder can worsen with stress. Patients of obsessive-compulsive disorder may show symptoms of obsession or compulsion, or both.

Obsessions are recurring thoughts, itches, or mental imageries that would result in anxiety. Patients feel helpless and start to lose control over their actions. Patients are uncomfortable with such feelings at times and want to be rid of them, which causes them to do whatever their brain has been ticking them to do. Obsessions, at times, are accompanied by the feelings of fear, disgust, and doubt. The patient feels that things have to be done the “right way” otherwise the world will not make sense. This is the most important factor to understand and perhaps is the blurred line that distinguishes an obsessive personality trait with obsessive-compulsive disorder – a psychological disorder.

Common symptoms of obsessions include:

  • Feeling the need for placing objects in a symmetrical order.
  • Recurring unwelcomed thoughts about socially unacceptable or taboo thoughts, such as religion, self-harm, sex, etc.
  • Feeling a constant and overwhelming fear of germs or contamination.
  • Feeling mild or, at times, having extremely aggressive thoughts toward others or one’s own self.

Compulsions are recurring behavior pattern that a patient of OCD has the urge to enact or indulge in, in response to an obsessive thought.

Common compulsions include:

  • Having the compulsive need to count – any and every object.
  • Having the need to order or arrange objects in a particular, preferred, manner.
  • Having the need to excessively clean something or wash one’s hands repeatedly.
  • Having the need to check certain things that have been taken care of, repeatedly. For example: checking if the doors are locked, or something is in its place, or it the stove is switched off.


As already established before, doctors have not been able to get to the root of obsessive-compulsive disorder, because of which they have not been able to find a proper cure. As the disease, most probably, has a neurological beginning it cannot be treated lightly. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is not tangible; therefore it cannot be operated on. One can only take prescribed medicines by a doctor who will lessen the influence of one’s obsessive-compulsive disorder on their daily lives. The doctor may suggest therapy2 to the patients.

Patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder at times have to help themselves by trying to avoid the situation that can worsen their compulsions. Although most adults are aware of their unaccustomed behavior and rituals, most adults and children are completely unaware of the fact. Parents and teachers are the ones who typically recognize OCD in children.

Though there is no proper route to cure Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), patients are treated in a way in order to help them live a normal life and not to let the disease get in the way of their day-to-day living; because if left untreated, the obsessive-compulsive disorder can interfere in all aspects of life.


  1. Psychology Today - Mental Rituals in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  2. Very Well Mind - Psychological Therapy for OCD

IMPORTANT NOTE:The above information is intended to increase awareness of health information and does not suggest treatment or diagnosis. This information is not a substitute for individual medical attention and should not be construed to indicate that use of the drug is safe, appropriate, or effective for you. See your health care professional for medical advice and treatment.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Fear of unreasonable things
  • Needing things to be symmetrical
  • Unwanted thoughts
  • Following a strict routine
  • Orderliness
  • Compulsive hand washing
  • Counting in patterns
  • Anxiety


  • Mental health disorder
  • Brain fixates on unreasonable thoughts and fears


  • Genetics
  • Biological
  • Genetics
  • Environment
  • Family history
  • Mental health disorder
  • Stressful life event


  • Physical exam
  • Lab tests
  • Psychological evaluation
  • Diagnostic criteria for OCD


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