Health A-Z

Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Clinical Definition

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, is a mental health disorder characterized by anxiety-provoking, intrusive and repetitive thoughts, behaviors, or both, performed repeatedly without an individual’s control. Treatments include SSRIs and behavioral therapy, as well as options for treatment-refractory patients.

In Our Own Words

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, is a disorder marked, as the name implies, by obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are unwanted but recurrent thoughts such as fear of getting dirty, fear of making a mistake, fear of a disaster or fear of losing something important. Compulsions include repeated hand washing, organizing objects in a specific way or checking and rechecking lights, stoves, locks, or other objects.

Treatment is advised if the symptoms interfere with work, personal relationships and/or your social life, and they may include antidepressants, behavioral therapy, deep brain stimulation or surgery.

Symptoms and Side Effects

  • Irrational fears
  • Recurring thoughts
  • Repetitive cleaning or hand washing
  • Repetitive checking of locks, stoves or other objects
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