What Is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a chronic mental health condition characterized by uncontrollable, recurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions) that the patient is compelled to repeat. Some patients develop obsessions with specific numbers and the compulsive behaviors have to be repeated without interruption that many times while others will continue with a behavior, even if that behavior is or becomes dangerous and harmful. OCD is a common mental health condition that affects patients of all ages. Risk factors for the condition include genetics, brain structure and function, and the patient’s environment.

What Are the Symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

Patients with OCD present with obsessive symptoms, compulsive symptoms, or a combination of both. Obsessions are repeated thoughts, mental images, or urges that cause the patient anxiety. For example, a patient may experience a fear of germs, aggressive or harmful thoughts, symmetry and order, and unwanted forbidden thoughts of a sexual or religious nature.

Compulsions are behaviors that a patient feels the need to complete over and over again. These may include ordering and arranging items in a specific way, repeatedly checking on things like whether or not the door is locked or the oven is off, counting, cleaning or hand washing. It is important to understand that not all rituals are compulsions and the desire to double check that you locked the door is not a sign of this mental health disorder.

OCD is typically diagnosed with these thoughts and behaviors are uncontrollable and excessive to the point of getting in the way of everyday life. People with OCD do not typically experience pleasure when performing their compulsive behaviors.

How Is OCD Treated?

Following a thorough psychiatric evaluation, a Remedy psychiatric provider will create an individualized treatment plan for each patient with OCD as every patient has a unique experience and specific needs to be addressed. The prescribed treatment plan will depend on the patient, the severity of the disorder, and how he or she is currently responding to therapy or medication.