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Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) affects millions of people worldwide. It is a condition that can develop any time from preschool to adulthood and while rates are a little higher in women than men, OCD affects people from all walks of life. Approximately 2% of the general population suffers from OCD, and in the United States, OCD affects about 2.2 million adults. The International OCD Foundation estimates that about 1 in 100 adults in the US have OCD while 1 in 200 children and teens suffer from the disorder.
People with OCD experience obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are intrusive and unwanted thoughts, images, or urge 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 but they 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.
ADAA and Beyond OCD
In April 2016 Beyond OCD joined forces with ADAA and transferred many of its website resources before the website officially closed down (February, 2017). These pages now include much of the website's content about OCD.