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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

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What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?

OCD is a common, chronic and long-lasting anxiety disorder in which people have recurring and unwanted thoughts, ideas or sensations that make them feel driven to do something repetitively.


It is not yet clear what causes OCD. There are many underlying contributors such as brain structure and function, genetics and increased environmental risk factors that make a person more susceptible to OCD. It is most likely a complex combination of these factors.


  • Fear of germs or contamination
  • Aggressive thoughts towards others or self
  • Excessive cleaning and/or hand washing
  • Ordering and arranging things in a particular, precise way
  • Compulsive counting
  • Can’t control thoughts or behaviors, even when they are recognized as excessive
  • Experiences significant problems in their daily life due to these thoughts or behaviors

Am I at risk?

OCD is a common disorder that affects adults, adolescents and children. Risk factors include:

  • Family history
  • Other mental health disorders
  • Environment (abuse, trauma, illness)

OCD At A Glance

  • Lifetime prevalence of OCD among US adults is 2.3%
  • OCD symptoms usually begin gradually and tend to vary in severity throughout life
  • There are many types of treatment for OCD

If you are experiencing a life threatening emergency please call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room

(800) 273-8255 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline(800) 799-7233 National Domestic Violence Hotline(800) 273-8255 Veterans Crisis Line(800) 442-4673 National Hopeline Network(800) 366-8288 Self-Harm Hotline(800) 448-3000 Boys Town National Hotline(800) 656-4673 National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline(800) 622-2255 Alcoholism & Drug Dependency Hope Line