Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is characterized by persistent disturbing thoughts (obsessions), and by the ritualistic actions used to manage the anxiety that accompanies these thoughts (compulsions). Someone with obsessive thoughts about germs, for example, might feel compelled to wash their hands again and again. A fear of social judgment may lead to compulsive hair brushing. These rituals offer only short-term relief from anxiety, if that.
Common OCD symptoms include hoarding, persistent thoughts about violent or sexual impulses, and nervous habits such as counting and rechecking (e.g., doorknobs, locks, the burners on a stove). Everyone does some obsessing and checking; with OCD, symptoms become overwhelming and interfere with work, relationships, and daily life. Most people with OCD are aware that their behavior is problematic; this understanding can lead to further distress.
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