Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder which
is a chronic and long-lasting mental disorder. In this condition the
person suffers from the uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts
(obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions). The person performs
the repetitive actions like hand washing, checking on things or cleaning,
which affects the person’s daily activities and social interactions.

OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder)

OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) by Famhealth

What are the signs and symptoms of OCD?

People with OCD can have the symptoms of either obsessions or compulsions, or both. These symptoms can affect the aspects of life, such as work, school, and personal relationships.

Obsessions are repeated thoughts, needs, or certain mental images that cause anxiety.

Here is a list of some common obsession symptoms:

  • The person is extremely fearful of germs or contamination
  • He/she keeps on thinking about certain taboo thoughts such as sex, religion, and harm
  • Person becomes extremely aggressive towards others or becomes self destructive
  • Person becomes obsessive in keeping things symmetrical or in a perfect order

Some of the common compulsions include:

  • Person becomes cleaniness and/or handwashing freak
  • Always tries to order and arrange things in a defined or particular way
  • Gets the habit of checking certain things like if the door is locked or that the oven is off

It is not mandatory that a person who double checks things are suffering from OCD, but an OCD patient is unable to control his or her thoughts or behaviors, even when those thoughts or behaviors are recognized as excessive and spends least 1 hour a day on these thoughts or behaviors

Some individuals also suffer from a problem known as Tic disorder. Tics is a motor disease and is causes sudden, brief, repetitive movements, such as eye blinking and other eye movements, certain facial movements such as grimacing, shoulder shrugging, and head or shoulder jerking. Some people also suffer from vocal tics such as repetitive throat-clearing, sniffing, or grunting sounds.

What causes OCD?

OCD is thought to have a genetic predisposition. OCD is common in some families; however not all in a family suffer from OCD. OCD starts in the adolescence and affects early in boys than the girls. Research has indicated that people who have suffered physical or sexual trauma are at an increased risk for OCD.

It has been observed that children who suffer from a streptococcal infection known as the post-infectious autoimmune syndrome is called Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcal Infections (PANDAS) are more likely to suffer from OCD and it has also been observed that such symptoms of OCD in such children get worse post infection.

How is OCD treated?

As a first step, it is necessary to consult a doctor about your symptoms. The doctor can do an examination and may refer the patient to a mental health specialist, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, or counselor for evaluation or treatment.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) medication or a combination of both can be used in treating a patient with OCD

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

CBT is a way which guides a patient in different ways of thinking, behaving, and reacting to the obsessions and compulsions.

Exposure and Response Prevention (EX/RP) is a type of CBT which has been shown to help many patients recover from OCD. EX/RP teaches gradually exposing you to your fears or obsessions and teaching you healthy ways to deal with the anxiety they cause.

Some other therapies include habit reversal training have been found in reversing the compulsions.

For children, the psychiatrist may design some methods to manage stress or may add an extra support to curb the OCD symptoms in school and home.


Certain medications like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and a type of serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SRI) called clomipramine are used to treat OCD.

Although SSRIs and SRIs are commonly used to treat depression, but they are also helpful for the symptoms of OCD. These medications may also cause side effects, such as headaches, nausea, or difficulty sleeping. Clomipramine, is other substitute and is a different class of medication from the SSRIs, sometimes experience dry mouth, constipation, rapid heartbeat, and dizziness on standing. However, these side effects usually vanish as a person starts taking the treatment on a regular basis and the dose is increased slowly under the guidance of the physician.