Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a disorder characterized by two primary symptoms: obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are intrusive, unwanted thoughts or impulses that trigger intensely distressing feelings of fear, disgust, or doubt.
Compulsions are repetitive behaviors or mental acts performed to diminish the tension brought on by obsessions. The thoughts and behavior of someone with OCD are carried out in response to an obsession to reduce or eliminate feeling anxious or tense.
It is important to note that the presence of a habit does not necessarily constitute OCD, as several people have rituals and/or habits that they practice regularly. However, in people with OCD, these obsessions and compulsions are strong enough to disrupt their daily life and a significant amount of time is dedicated to these obsessions and compulsions.
Although it is not fully understood what causes OCD, genetics, environment, and abnormalities in certain areas of the brain may be responsible.
Did You Know?
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), about 1.2% of American adults are affected by OCD. NAMI also notes that individuals who have an immediate family member with OCD are 25% more likely to develop OCD themselves.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Symptoms of OCD can include:
- Obsessions: Recurrent intrusive thoughts or images that cause distress
- Compulsions: Repetitive behaviors or mental acts that are performed in an attempt to prevent or reduce distress triggered by these obsessions
- Excessive time spent on these compulsions can get in the way of important activities such as work or school, and disrupt relationships
- Fear of contamination
- Fear or losing or discarding something important (can lead to hoarding)
- Disturbing thoughts or images, which can be violent or sexual
- Excessive hand washing, showering, or other cleaning rituals
- Constantly seeking approval or reassurance
- Ordering/ arranging things in a particular way
- Repeatedly checking locks, light switches, or appliances
Individuals with OCD cannot control their thoughts or behaviors, nor do they receive pleasure from performing behavioral rituals. Additionally, some people with OCD also have a tic disorder that can manifest as a motor or vocal tic. Symptoms associated with OCD can also change over time and may go through periods where they ease or worsen. Only a licensed mental health professional can accurately diagnose OCD, so if you or a loved one are showing symptoms, schedule a consultation with our psychiatrists at Florida Family Psychiatry today.
There is no single test to diagnose OCD. Instead, OCD is diagnosed after a physical exam, discussion of your medical history, a review of symptoms, and ruling out other conditions that cause similar physical symptoms. You will likely be asked to fill out a self-assessment and/or answer specific questions so that your provider can give you an accurate diagnosis. Diagnosis of OCD is generally based on the presence of both obsessions and compulsions that are severe enough to disrupt your daily routine.
In most cases, a combination of talk therapy and medication is recommended. Talk therapy can help people with OCD deal with fearful thoughts in a safe space, while medications can help alleviate symptoms.
Guides for Parents & Patients:
Medical Guides for Physicians and Other Providers (Published in 2017):
- Overview of Treatment of Pediatric Acute-Onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome
- Clinical Management of Pediatric Acute-Onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome: Part I—Psychiatric and Behavioral Interventions
- Clinical Management of Pediatric Acute-Onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome: Part II—Use of Immunomodulatory Therapies
- Clinical Management of Pediatric Acute-Onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome: Part III—Treatment and Prevention of Infections
Books for Parents:
Books for Children:
Some of the contents of this Florida Family Psychiatry (FFP) webpage were sourced from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, the National Institute of Mental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Anxiety & Depression Association of America, and their affiliates. The content on this page should be used for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. FFP has made every attempt to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the content on this website. However, the information is provided “as is” without warranty of any kind.
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