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What is OCD?

Updated: Feb 20, 2022

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common mental health condition which is chronic in nature and displays a pattern of recurring, unwanted, uncontrollable, thoughts/ sensations (obsession) that compel one to indulge in repetitive behaviours (compulsion) which interfere with daily life and a great cause of stress.


The symptoms of OCD come in the form of Obsessions and Compulsions. These symptoms last more than an hour for an individual with OCD each day and disrupt everyday activities. These thoughts, behaviors and images are often unreasonable and the stress caused by them usually cannot be solved by normal logical reasoning. Some individuals might show obsessive and compulsive symptoms together.

Obsessions are intrusive urges, thoughts, images, visuals that cause great anxiety. They are usually unavoidable and therefore individuals to ease the distress and anxiety take part in the compulsions, suppress obsessions or try to distract themselves. Some of the symptoms are:

  • Awareness of breathing, blinking and other sensations.

  • Fear of contamination, germs, diseases

  • Aggressive or violent thoughts to one’s self or others

  • Extreme concern to have things in a symmetrical order

  • Disturbing, taboo thoughts or sexual images

  • Fear or saying obscene or insulting things

  • Fear of losing something or someone important

Compulsions are behaviours that are repetitive in nature and are a response to the obsession to ease the anxiety caused by obsessions. An individual feels an urge to do so in response which at times might be excessive, and these could be actions that are not related to the obsession. It's important to understand that not all habits are compulsions and vice versa. Some symptoms are:

  • Constant cleaning and washing hands, brushing teeth

  • Repetitive checking on things (if doors are locked, gas/oven is off)

  • arranging and ordering ways in a particular symmetrical manner

  • Counting compulsively

  • Demanding reassurance and seeking approval constantly

  • Silently repeating phrases, words, prayers

OCD affects 2.3% of the people in their lifetime. OCD symptoms can gradually start off during childhood but the severity of it varies in adulthood. If these obsessions and compulsions drastically affect your life, one should seek help.


The causes of OCD are unknown but some of the risk factors could be:

  • Genetics and family history

  • Other mental disorders

  • Major stressful life events


OCD is treated by medication, therapy (psychotherapy) and sometimes a combination of both. Joining a study, practicing self care and realtation techniques can help a person with OCD. It is important to recognize these signs and symptoms on time to help the individual’s condition from worsening and given proper care.

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