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Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) affects millions of people from all walks of life. According to the NIMH, OCD affected 1.2% of adults in the U.S. in the past year.1 It currently affects approximately 1 in 40 adults and 1 in 100 children in the U.S.2 More than five million adults in the US are diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in their lifetime. (National Institute of Mental Health). People with OCD experience obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are intrusive and unwanted thoughts, images, or urges that cause distress or anxiety. Compulsions are behaviors that the person feels compelled to perform in order to ease their distress or anxiety or suppress the thoughts. Some of these behaviors are visible actions while others are mental behaviors. Common obsessions include concerns about contamination, cleanliness, aggressive impulses, or the need for symmetry. Common compulsions include checking, washing/cleaning, and arranging. There isn’t always a logical connection between obsessions and compulsions. Often people with OCD experiences a variety of obsessions and compulsions.   

Many people with OCD recognize that their obsessions and compulsions are not rational. Nevertheless, they still feel a strong need to perform the repetitive behavior or mental compulsions. They may spend several hours every day focusing on their obsessions, performing seemingly senseless rituals. If left untreated, OCD can be chronic and can interfere with a person’s normal routine, schoolwork, job, family, or social activities. Proper treatment can help sufferers regain control over the illness and feel relief from the symptoms.     

Unlike adults, children and teens with OCD may not recognize that their obsessions and compulsions are excessive.   

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Learn about related disorders: trichotillomania and Tourette syndrome.

Screen yourself or a loved one for OCD. 

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