Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a neurobiological disorder that affects men, women and children of every race, religion and socioeconomic group. OCD is far more common than once thought. It is estimated that 1 in 100 adults are currently living with OCD. That is 2 to 3 million adults in the United States alone. Even so, people affected by OCD often feel that they are the only ones who are experiencing obsessions and compulsions.
Studies find that it takes an average of 14 years from the time OCD begins for people to obtain appropriate treatment. This is because many people chose to hide their symptoms or they are unaware that their symptoms can be treated. In some cases, people with OCD symptoms will see several health professionals before receiving a correct diagnosis and proper treatment.
OCD is diagnosed when a person has obsessions, does compulsive behaviors and the obsessions and compulsions take a lot of time and get in the way of important activities and/or causes a lot of distress.
People with OCD face severe, often debilitating anxiety over any number of things called obsessions. Obsessions are persistent, uncontrollable thoughts, impulses or images that are intrusive, unwanted and disturbing. Most people with OCD realize their obsessions are irrational, but they believe the only way to relieve their anxiety or discomfort is by performing compulsions.
It is normal to have occasional thoughts about getting sick or about the safety of loved ones. OCD is not characterized by stalkers, “obsessed” fans, workaholics, compulsive shoppers, gamblers or people “obsessed” with video games.
To try to overcome severe anxiety, people with OCD use compulsions or rituals in order to ease their fears. Compulsions are repetitive actions or mental rituals intended to relieve the distress caused by obsessions. People with OCD realize this is only a temporary solution, but without a better way to cope they rely on the compulsion as a temporary escape. Compulsions can also include avoiding situations that trigger obsessions.
Not all repetitive behaviors or “rituals” are compulsions. Bedtime routines, religious practices and learning a new skill involve repeating an activity over and over again, but are a welcome part of daily life.
OCD is a common and treatable medical condition. There is no reason to be afraid or ashamed to seek treatment. OCD is a disorder, just like asthma or diabetes. Learning to manage this disorder can dramatically boost peace of mind and improve quality of life. An abundance of research indicates that the disorder responds well to a specific kind of therapy called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), sometimes in combination with medication.
Please contact the following resources for more information on OCD and treatment of OCD:
The information contained in this website page was gathered or copied from materials provided by the OCD Foundation and Beyond OCD.