Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Jul 07, 2023

Understanding Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, commonly known as OCD, is a mental health disorder that affects people of all ages and walks of life. It is characterized by recurring, unwanted thoughts or sensations (obsessions) that drive an individual to do something repetitively (compulsions). These rituals, such as hand washing, counting, checking on things, or cleaning, can significantly interfere with a person's daily activities and social interactions.

OCD brain

Common Obsessions in OCD

Obsessions are intrusive and unwanted thoughts, images, or urges that cause distress or anxiety. While the content of obsessions varies among individuals, some common themes include:

  • Fear of contamination or dirt
  • Needing things orderly and symmetrical
  • Aggressive or horrific thoughts about harming oneself or others
  • Unwanted thoughts, including aggression, or sexual or religious subjects
OCD obsessions

Common Compulsions in OCD

Compulsions are behaviors that someone with OCD feels the urge to do in response to an obsessive thought. It's important to understand that not all repetitive behaviors or "rituals" are compulsions. Only those that are done in response to an obsession or to alleviate distress or prevent a feared event are considered compulsions. Common compulsions include:

  • Excessive cleaning and handwashing
  • Ordering and arranging things in a particular, precise way
  • Repeatedly checking on things, such as repeatedly checking to see if the door is locked or that the oven is off
  • Compulsive counting
OCD compulsions

The Impact of OCD on Quality of Life

OCD is often misunderstood and trivialized, which can lead to stigma and make the journey to diagnosis and treatment more difficult. The reality is that OCD can be debilitating and significantly interfere with a person's quality of life. It can consume hours of a person's day, causing severe emotional distress and impairing their daily functioning.

OCD impact

Treatment for OCD

The good news is that OCD is treatable, and many people with OCD can lead a full and productive life. The most effective treatment approaches are cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and medication. CBT, and specifically a type of CBT known as Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), is considered the gold standard treatment for OCD. ERP involves gradually exposing individuals to their fears and helping them resist the urge to perform their compulsive behaviors.

OCD treatment


Understanding OCD is the first step towards combating the stigma associated with it and supporting those who live with this condition. It's essential to remember that OCD is not a personality trait or a quirk, but a real, serious mental health condition that requires professional help. If you or a loved one is struggling with OCD, reach out to a mental health professional who can provide the necessary help and support.