What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?
OCD is a form of anxiety disorder characterized by intrusive, repetitive, anxiety-provoking thoughts (obsessions) coupled with mental and/or behavioral rituals or routines (compulsions). With OCD, what would usually be effective strategies in dealing with uncertainty and anxiety actually reinforce the cycle of OCD. People who experience OCD often find themselves caught in a never-ending loop of seeking, but never attaining, what they feel is an acceptable level of certainty and reassurance.
When OCD symptoms become persistent, begin to interfere with living one’s life in a valued manner, and/or causes health or safety concerns, seeking professional help from a trained mental health professional (e.g., therapist, counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist) is recommended.
A great resource for learning about OCD and related disorders is the International OCD Foundation.
Common Symptoms of OCD
anxiety, nervousness, irritability, stress, sadness
uncontrollable repetitive thoughts or images, racing thoughts, intrusive/unwanted thoughts or images, recurring distressing thoughts, preoccupation with uncertainty, repetitive thinking
rapid heart beat, nausea, rapid breathing (e.g., hyperventilation), dizziness or feeling faint, chest tightness, frequent headaches, low energy, fatigue
repetitive time-consuming behavioral rituals, avoiding situations that elicit anxiety, asking others for reassurance