Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a disorder of the brain and behavior. OCD causes severe anxiety in those affected and involves both obsessions and compulsions that take a lot of time and get in the way of important activities the person values.
Obsessions are thoughts, images or impulses that occur over and over again and feel outside of the person’s control. Individuals with OCD do not want to have these thoughts and find them disturbing. In most cases, people with OCD realize that these thoughts don’t make any sense. Obsessions are typically accompanied by intense and uncomfortable feelings such as fear, disgust, doubt, or a feeling that things have to be done in a way that is “just right.”
Compulsions are the second part of obsessive compulsive disorder. These are repetitive behaviors or thoughts that a person uses with the intention of neutralizing, counteracting, or making their obsessions go away. People with OCD realize this is only a temporary solution but without a better way to cope they rely on the compulsion as a temporary escape. Compulsions can also include avoiding situations that trigger obsessions. Compulsions are time consuming and get in the way of important activities the person values.
OCD can start at any time from preschool to adulthood. Our best estimates are that 1 in 100 adults current have OCD. This is roughly the same number of people living in the city of Houston, TX There are also at least 1 in 200 kids and teens that have OCD. This is about the same number of kids who have diabetes.
Source: International OCD Foundation website, www.iocdf.org/about-ocd