Obsessive Compulsive Disorder : Psychological Disease : Symptoms & Causes


Obsessive-compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder in which people have thoughts, feelings, ideas, sensations (obsessions), or behaviors that make them feel driven to do something (compulsions). A person may have both obsessions and compulsions.


(1) Obsessions or compulsions that are not due to medical illness or drug use
(2) Obsessions or compulsions that cause major distress or interfere with everyday life
An example of obsessive-compulsive disorder is excessive, repeated hand washing to ward off infection. The person usually recognizes that the behavior is excessive or unreasonable.
Symptoms of the disorder include excessive washing or cleaning; repeated checking; extreme hoarding; preoccupation with sexual, violent or religious thoughts; aversion to particular numbers; and nervous rituals, such as opening and closing a door a certain number of times before entering or leaving a room. These symptoms can be alienating and time-consuming, and often cause severe emotional and financial distress.

Causes & Risk Factors

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is more common than was once thought. Most people who develop it show symptoms by age 30.
There are several theories about the cause of OCD, but none have been confirmed. Some reports have linked OCD to head injury and infections. Several studies have shown that there are brain abnormalities in patients with OCD, but more research is needed.
About 20% of people with OCD have tics, which suggests the condition may be related to Tourette syndrome. However, this link is not clear.

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