What it is: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is categorized by a cycle of obsessions and compulsions that result in significant distress or cause life impairment. Obsessions are intrusive and unwanted thoughts, images, or urges that result in severely distressing feelings (e.g., anxiety, fear). Compulsions are behaviors that are designed to reduce the distress caused by obsessions. While most people will experience obsessions or compulsions at some point in their life, OCD interferes with a person’s ability to function and live the life they want. Common obsessions associated with OCD include contamination (e.g., dirt, germs), loss of control, unwanted sexual thoughts, perfectionism, and harm. Common compulsions include excessive checking behaviors, reassurance seeking, avoidance, counting, and washing or cleaning.
Associated Concerns: OCD often co-occurs with symptoms of anxiety, mood disturbance, insomnia, and physical health concerns that can be exacerbated by anxiety or stress (e.g., gastro-intestinal concerns, chronic pain conditions, or high blood pressure).