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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), basics

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), basics

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The Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) It is a mental health disorder where the person has recurring obsessive thoughts and compulsive activity.


  • 1 What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?
  • 2 Symptoms of OCD
  • 3 What causes Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?
  • 4 Who does it affect?
  • 5 Getting help
  • 6 How is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder treated?

What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

An obsession is an unwanted thought, image or impulse and unpleasant that repeatedly enters a person's mind, causing feelings of anxiety, disgust or discomfort.

A compulsion is a repetitive behavior or mental act that someone feels they need to carry out to try to temporarily relieve unpleasant feelings caused by obsessive thinking.

For example, someone with a fear of being robbed in your home may feel that you need to close all the doors and windows several times before you can leave the house.

OCD symptoms can range from mild to severe. Some people with OCD can spend an hour a day dedicated to obsessive-compulsive behavior, but for others it can last so long that it prevents them from performing daily tasks and leading a normal life.

OCD symptoms

As we have already seen, suffering from OCD means having obsessions, compulsions or both at the same time.


Obsessions are defined according to the following criteria (DSM-V):

  1. Recurring and persistent thoughts, impulses or images that are experienced at some point in the disorder as intrusive and inappropriate. They cause significant anxiety or discomfort.
  2. Thoughts, impulses or images are not reduced to simple excessive worries about real life problems.
  3. The person tries to ignore or suppress these thoughts, impulses or images, or tries to neutralize them through other thoughts or acts.
  4. The person recognizes that these obsessive thoughts, impulses or images are the product of his mind (and they are not imposed as in the insertion of thought).

In addition, the person who has these thoughts, impulses or mental images tries to ignore them or make them disappear.


Compulsions are defined according to the following criteria:

  1. Behaviors (e.g., handwashing, ordering of objects, checks) or mental acts (e.g., praying, counting or repeating words in silence) of a repetitive nature, which the individual is forced to perform in response to an obsession or according to certain rules that you must strictly follow.
  2. The objective of these mental behaviors or operations is the prevention or reduction of discomfort or the prevention of any negative event or situation. However, these mental behaviors or operations are either not realistically connected with what they intend to neutralize or prevent or are clearly excessive.

At some point in the course of the disorder the person has recognized that these obsessions or compulsions are excessive or irrational.

Obsessions or compulsions consume a lot of time (more than one hour per day). They also cause intense distress or significantly interfere with the person's daily activities. Symptoms are not due to the use of medications or other drugs Nor to another condition.

If the person suffers from another disorder at the same time, obsessions or compulsions cannot be related only to the symptoms of the additional disorder. For example, to receive the diagnosis of OCD, a person suffering from an eating disorder must also have obsessions or compulsions that are not related only to food.

Featured Symptoms

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is clinically heterogeneous. Patients usually present a miscellaneous symptoms simultaneously. These symptoms include the following groups:

  • Pollution. Observations about possible contamination by dirt, germs, viruses or foreign substances. Also the possibility of having acquired a certain disease or several (for example, HIV or cancer).
  • Verification. Doubts about having things closed or turned off properly (eg gas, lights, windows, doors ...)
  • Order and symmetry. Search for perfection. Intense tension and discomfort when seeing or thinking that these objects can be touched or moved in a different order.
  • Drive phobias. They are characterized by an intense fear of losing control in the following ways: Sexual, Religious and Aggressive.
  • Accumulation: Collect insignificant items with difficulty getting rid of them.
  • Magic thinking. Unpleasant thoughts that if not restored by a certain behavior or image can lead to disastrous consequences.
  • "Just Right" feeling. It usually occurs with repetitions. The patient thinks that he must execute a behavior or a thought repeatedly until he remains calm.
  • Somatic and / or hypochondriac. Doubts about getting a disease or being sick. It can also be expressed regarding the doubt of having an asymmetric or deformed body part.
  • Metaphysics. Doubts about the future or existence.
  • Tell. Need to count the number of cars on a street, for example, or windows of a building.

They are also compulsions: Avoidance, family implications.

What causes Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

It is not clear exactly what causes OCD, although different factors have been suggested.

In some cases, the disease can be hereditary, linking to certain inherited genes that affect brain development.

Brain imaging studies have shown that the brains of some people with OCD may be different from the brains of people who do not have this condition. For example, increased activity in certain areas of the brain, particularly those that deal with strong emotions and responses to them.

Studies have also shown that people with OCD have an imbalance of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a chemical that the brain uses to transmit information from one brain cell to another.

Who is affected?

It is estimated that about 3% of the general population suffers from this type of anxious disorder to a more or less mild degree, and in a serious condition about 0.8% of adults and 0.25% of children and adolescents suffer .

OCD usually begins during adolescence or at the beginning of adulthood, although it can also begin in earlier stages, during childhood. In men it usually has an early onset (between 6-15 years of age) than in women (20-25 years of age).

The onset of the disorder is usually gradual, although cases of acute onset have been observed. Most cases show moderate improvement with pharmacological and psychological treatment. However, they become chronically ill although with ups and downs of symptoms in relation to stressful events. 15% of the patients present an intense and progressive deterioration of the psychic functioning with serious disturbance in the social and labor ties.

Getting help

People with OCD are often reluctant to seek help because they feel ashamed. However, seeking help is important, since it is unlikely that the symptoms will improve if left untreated, and may get worse.

How is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder treated?

With treatment, the prognosis for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is quite good. Many people can be cured of their OCD. At least, their symptoms can be reduced enough so that they can enjoy a good quality of life.

Main treatments

Cognitive behavioral therapy, which involves a therapy known as graduated exposure with response prevention and that encourages you to face fear and let obsessive thoughts occur without "neutralizing" them with compulsions.

Pharmacologically treated with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI). This medicine can help reduce your symptoms by altering the balance of chemicals in the brain. If these treatments are not effective or your condition is particularly serious, you may have to be referred to a specialized mental health service for treatment.

Related tests
  • Depression test
  • Goldberg depression test
  • Self-knowledge test
  • how do others see you?
  • Sensitivity test (PAS)
  • Character test


  1. Obi

    This situation is familiar to me. Ready to help.

  2. Aten

    Yes, faster if she already left !!

  3. Shandley

    Sorry for interfering ... I have a similar situation. Let's discuss.

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