Obsessive-compulsive disorder also known as OCD is an anxiety disorder in which people have recurring, unwanted thoughts, fears, ideas, and sensations ( obsessions) that make them feel driven to do something repetitively (compulsive behavior).
Symptoms of OCD are characterized by two forms:
- Obsessions: People with OCD tend to have upsetting thoughts or impulses that keep recurring. They may try to ignore or suppress them, but they may be afraid that they are real. Suppression can also cause too much anxiety to endure, making people engage in compulsive behaviors to reduce their anxiety.
- Compulsions: People with compulsions repeat rituals in the hope that the rituals will prevent something bad from happening. Often, the rituals provide temporary relief from the anxiety caused by an obsession.
The following factors can put you at risk for developing OCD:
- Genetic Factors: There may be a genetic factor in OCD for some people. OCD usually runs in families, so having a family member with OCD increases the risk.
- Presence of other mental disorders: People with other mental health issues are more likely to develop OCD. This may include anxiety disorder, depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, etc
- Stress: A stressful life event can be the cause of OCD symptoms. It is often associated with bereavement, divorce, relationship issues, problems in school, or abuse.
- Pregnancy and postpartum: Symptoms can be triggered by hormones. OCD symptoms may worsen during pregnancy. OCD after childbirth can include intense worry regarding the well-being of the child.
Types of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders
There are many types of OCD, but the majority of cases fall under these broad categories:
- Some people associate OCD with a phobia of germs and a need to wash hands compulsively. Those diagnosed with OCD may avoid situations and activities because of this fear.
- People with OCD may be constantly worried that they haven't done something correctly or completely. For example, someone may doubt that they have locked the door when leaving the house.
- People with OCD are often obsessed with arranging and ordering objects or visualizing symmetry. Also, some of them may have superstitions around specific numbers, patterns, or symmetry.
- Obsession is often characterized by a fear of causing harm to others, tantrums, or persistent images of violence and aggression. These kinds of thoughts may also be sexual, such as fearing inappropriate sexual behavior or experiencing recurring, troubling sexual images.
- Some people worry that harm will come to their loved ones. For example, someone may consistently worry that their child will get hurt in a car accident.