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Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
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Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

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Stress & Anxiety

From MayoClinic.com


Doctors don't know the exact cause of obsessive-compulsive disorder, but many suspect that it has to do with faulty brain circuitry. An insufficient level of serotonin, one of your brain's chemical messengers, may contribute to obsessive-compulsive disorder. Imaging studies (positron emission tomography or PET scans) comparing the brains of people with and without obsessive-compulsive disorder show differences in brain-activity patterns. People who have obsessive-compulsive disorder and who take medications that enhance the action of serotonin often show great improvement. Obsessive-compulsive disorder isn't caused by family problems or behavior learned in childhood.

Risk factors

Your risk of developing obsessive-compulsive disorder is slightly higher if your parents or other family members have obsessive-compulsive disorder. However, researchers haven't identified any genes responsible for obsessive-compulsive disorder. You may also have a biological predisposition to react strongly to stress. This reaction may, for some reason, trigger the intrusive thoughts, rituals and emotional distress characteristic of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

When to seek medical advice

Shame and embarrassment may keep you from seeking treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder. But even if your rituals are deeply ingrained, treatments can help. If you suspect you have obsessive-compulsive disorder, see your doctor or a mental health professional.

Screening and diagnosis

To diagnose obsessive-compulsive disorder, your doctor will ask you questions about your obsessions, compulsions and emotional well-being and may talk to friends and relatives about your behavior. There's no specific laboratory test for obsessive-compulsive disorder.



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