Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental illness characterized by recurrent unpleasant thoughts or feelings (obsessions) or a strong need to repeat a behavior (compulsions). Obsessions and compulsions can coexist in some persons.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder isn’t about bad behaviors like chewing your nails or obsessing over negative ideas. It’s possible that an obsessive idea is that specific numbers or colors are “good” or “bad.” After touching something potentially dirty, a compulsive practice can be to wash your hands seven times. You feel powerless to stop thinking or doing these things, even if you don’t want to.
Everyone has habits or thoughts that repeat sometimes. People with OCD have thoughts or actions that:

  • Take up at least an hour a day
  • Are beyond your control
  • Aren’t enjoyable
  • Interfere with work, your social life, or another part of life

OCD Types and Symptoms

OCD comes in many forms, but most cases fall into at least one of four general categories:

  • Checking, such as locks, alarm systems, ovens, or light switches, or thinking you have a medical condition like pregnancy or schizophrenia
  • Contamination, a fear of things that might be dirty or a compulsion to clean. Mental contamination involves feeling like you’ve been treated like dirt.
  • Symmetry and ordering, the need to have things lined up in a certain way
  • Ruminations and intrusive thoughts, an obsession with a line of thought. Some of these thoughts might be violent or disturbing.