OCD Information


Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is classified as an anxiety disorder characterized by the presence of persistent and intrusive obsessions—recurring unwanted thoughts, ideas, or sensations. These obsessions often compel individuals to engage in repetitive behaviors or mental acts, known as compulsions, in an attempt to relieve distress or prevent feared events or situations. Common compulsive behaviors include excessive hand washing, checking, and cleaning, which can consume a considerable amount of time and significantly interfere with a person’s daily activities and social interactions.

The distinction between OCD and everyday habits or quirks lies in the degree to which these thoughts and behaviors affect one’s life. While many people engage in routine behaviors that may impart structure or efficiency to their tasks, these do not typically disrupt daily life or cause significant distress. In contrast, for individuals with OCD, the obsessions are intensely distressing and the compulsions are rigidly performed according to specific rules or patterns. Failure to perform these rituals can result in overwhelming anxiety and distress.

People with OCD often recognize that their obsessive thoughts are irrational or unlikely to be true, which adds to their distress—knowing the thoughts make no logical sense, yet feeling powerless to stop them. However, insight into the condition can vary significantly among those affected. Some individuals may maintain good insight, fully aware that their obsessions are products of their own mind. Others might have poor insight, wherein they think there is a possibility that their obsessive fears could be real.

The exact causes of OCD are still not fully understood, but a combination of genetic, neurobiological, and environmental factors are believed to play a role. Neuroimaging studies have shown that people with OCD often have differences in certain areas of the brain, including increased activity and altered connectivity in the orbitofrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, and basal ganglia—areas linked to the control of executive functions, decision making, and response to perceived threats.

Treatment for OCD typically involves a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most commonly prescribed medications that help to reduce the symptoms by altering the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain. Additionally, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), particularly exposure and response prevention (ERP), has been shown to be effective. ERP involves repeated exposure to the source of the fear without engaging in the compulsive behavior associated with it.

Despite the challenges posed by OCD, with appropriate treatment, many people find that their symptoms improve significantly. However, it is common for the symptoms to fluctuate over time, and ongoing treatment may be necessary to manage the disorder. Advances in understanding the psychological and neurobiological underpinnings of OCD continue to enhance the approaches available for treatment and support, offering hope and improved outcomes for those affected by this disorder.


The following online tests are available to assess various aspects related to OCD.