Obsessive-compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-compulsive Disorder, usually referred to by its acronym OCD, is a treatable mental condition. OCD consists of two primary factors, obsessions, and compulsions. Obsessions are generally considered repetitive thoughts, urges, mental images, or sensations that produce a significant amount of anxiety or guilt. Common obsessions seen in OCD are:

  • Fears of contamination

  • Thoughts of violence and/or sex

  • Religious or moral concerns

  • Needing to do things "just right."

Compulsions are behaviors that are used to try to remove, neutralize, or prevent the anxiety or guilt caused by the obsession. These behaviors can be strictly mental as well. Common compulsions include:

  • Excessive hand washing

  • Asking others for reassurance that the obsession is not true

  • Avoiding people, places, or things that cause discomfort

  • Mentally reviewing events

The content of our obsessions is, unfortunately, only limited by our imagination. There are a great deal of "subtypes" of OCD. The below list is not exhaustive but includes some well-known ones in the OCD community:

  • Hit-and-run OCD

  • Contamination OCD

  • Paedophilia OCD (POCD)

  • Sexual Orientation OCD (SOOCD)

  • Moral/Religious Scrupulosity

  • Essence OCD

  • "Pure O" (A misnomer)

  • Health OCD

  • Relationship OCD

According to the International Obsessive-compulsive Disorder Foundation (2021), OCD generally tends to occur between the ages of 8 and twelve, or between the late teenage and early adulthood years. 

OCD affects between 1-3% of the population.

While the factors that cause OCD are not always clear, there is reason to believe the following may contribute to the manifestation of OCD and its maintenance:

  • Genetics

  • Communication issues within the brain

  • Dysfunction in the serotonergic system

  • Dysfunction in the glutamatergic system

  • Trauma

  • World-view

  • Learning

  • Infection and issues with the immune system (In children)

OCD is often treated with medication and/or psychotherapy. The particular form of psychotherapy found to be most effective is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), with exposure and response prevention (ERP).

Many individuals with OCD are able to live long, healthy, and happy lives.