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Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
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Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
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MENTAL HEALTH

Stress & Anxiety

From MayoClinic.com

Signs and symptoms

Signs and symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder include:

Obsessions

These are recurrent, persistent, unwanted ideas, thoughts or impulses that you experience involuntarily and that appear to be senseless. They commonly intrude when you're trying to think of or do other things. Common obsessions include:

  • Fear of dirt or contamination

  • Concern with order, symmetry and exactness

  • Constantly thinking about certain sounds, images, words or numbers

  • Fear of harming a family member or friend

  • Fear of thinking evil or sinful thoughts

Compulsions

These are repetitive behaviors that you're driven to perform regularly to combat your obsessions, even though to you they may seem — and to others they may appear — senseless. You may even make up "rules" to follow to help control the anxiety you feel when having obsessive thoughts. Typical compulsions include:

  • Excessive hand washing

  • Repeatedly checking that doors are locked and appliances are turned off

  • Arranging items in a precise order

  • Counting over and over to a certain number

  • Touching certain objects several times

When you perform these rituals, you may feel some relief from anxiety, but not for long. Soon your discomfort returns, and you feel compelled to repeat your behaviors.

If you have obsessive-compulsive disorder, you probably know your repetitive thoughts and behaviors are irrational and senseless, but you can't free yourself from them. You may be able to control unwanted behaviors for a while, but your resistance may weaken after months or years of struggle. Eventually, your rituals may take up more and more of your day, making it virtually impossible to lead a "normal" life.

There's a difference between being a perfectionist and having obsessive-compulsive disorder. Perhaps you get all of your work done a week ahead of schedule, you compete at sports like a pro and the floors in your house are so clean you could eat off them. That doesn't mean you have obsessive-compulsive disorder. Instead, you may belong to a large group of people who are sometimes called compulsive. That just means you hold yourself to a very high standard of performance in all that you do. This behavior contributes to building your self-esteem and success. These are not the behaviors seen in people with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Behaviors associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder interfere with everyday functioning.

 

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This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.
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Last Modified : 03/15/08 01:39 AM