Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common, long-lasting disorder that causes people to have unwanted thoughts and perform repeated behaviors. OCD can be hard to control but treatment can help.
People with OCD are often aware that their behavior is not rational. They may feel embarrassed and ashamed, and frequently try to hide their symptoms. This can lead to isolation from friends and family members.
Obsessions are distressing, unwanted thoughts that occur over and over again. Some common obsessions include:
Fear of germs or contamination
Intrusive sexual thoughts about other people
Fear of losing control of their behavior
Compulsions are behaviors a person feels driven to repeat over and over, in an attempt to get rid of the obsession or reduce anxiety caused by it. Some common compulsions include:
Excessive washing or cleaning
Spending a lot of time arranging objects in a certain way or according to certain rules (like putting all the silverware on the right side of the plate)
Counting things (sometimes called "magical thinking")
Repeating routine actions like walking around a block several times to "prevent" bad things from happening
Treatment for OCD involves medication and/or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and can be highly effective at reducing symptoms, although complete recovery may take some time.