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Obsessive / Compulsive Disorder

  • Obsessive / Compulsive disorder (OCD) affects over 2 million American adults. It affects men and women equally and typically appears in childhood, adolescence or early adulthood.

    People with OCD have persistent, upsetting thoughts (obsessions) and use rituals (compulsions) to control the anxiety these thoughts produce. Most of the time, the rituals end up controlling their life. While healthy people can also have rituals, people with OCD perform their rituals even when they interfere with daily life and typically find the ritual repetition distressing.

    For example, if people are obsessed with germs or dirt, they may develop a compulsion to wash their hands over and over again. If they develop an obsession with intruders, they may lock and relock their doors many times before going to bed. Being afraid of social embarrassment may prompt people with OCD to comb their hair compulsively in front of a mirror.  Sometimes they get "caught" in the mirror and can't move away from it. Performing such rituals is not pleasurable. At best, it produces temporary relief from the anxiety created by obsessive thoughts.

    Symptoms of OCD include:

    • Extreme worry about dirt or contamination
    • Preoccupation with order and neatness
    • Constant rearrangement of objects
    • Constantly checking actions (especially in a particular sequence)
    • Frequent thoughts of violence and harming loved ones
    • Anxiety that something terrible will happen if a particular ritual is not followed

    The course of the disorder varies greatly. Symptoms may come and go, ease over time or get worse. Other disorders that can occur with OCD include: depression, other anxiety disorders and eating disorders.

    What you can do to help

    If you believe you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of an OCD, don't wait for the problem to go away by itself. Get help now.

    When you need someone to talk to, turn to Belmont Behavioral Health at 1-800-220-HELP (4357) or 215-877-2000.

    Treatment for Obsessive / Compulsive Disorder

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