Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Statistics related to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), approximately 1 percent of Americans have OCD.

What is obsessive-compulsive disorder?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder in which a person has an unreasonable thought, fear, or worry that he or she tries to manage through a ritualized activity to reduce the anxiety. Frequently occurring disturbing thoughts or images are called obsessions, and the rituals performed to try to prevent or dispel them are called compulsions.

What are obsessions, as they relate to OCD?

Obsessions are irrational thoughts, fears, or worries that frequently recur and cause great anxiety, but cannot be controlled through reasoning. Common obsessions include the following:

Although an individual with an obsession realizes that the thoughts are unreasonable and not related to real-life problems, this knowledge is not enough to make the unwanted thoughts go away.

In an attempt to get rid of the obsessive thoughts, people with OCD engage in compulsive behavior.

What are compulsions, as they relate to OCD?

Compulsions are repetitive, ritualized behaviors enacted to reduce anxiety caused by the obsession(s). Examples of compulsions include:

Compulsive behaviors can become excessive, disruptive, and time-consuming, and may interfere with daily activities and relationships.

Who is affected by obsessive-compulsive disorder?

OCD affects approximately 1 percent of American adults. OCD often begins in adolescence or early adulthood, but can also first occur in childhood. OCD affects men and women equally, and appears to run in families. It is not unusual for other anxiety disorders, depression, eating disorders, or substance abuse to accompany OCD. People may avoid situations in which they might have to confront their obsessions, or try unsuccessfully to use alcohol or drugs to calm themselves.

How is OCD diagnosed?

The disorder is diagnosed only when such activities:

Always see your doctor for a diagnosis.

Treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder

Specific treatment for OCD will be determined by your doctor based on:

Treatment may include:

Click here to view the
Online Resources of Mental Health Disorders


Top of Page return to top of page