You Are Not Alone
Information for Individuals

Obsessions and Compulsions

What Is OCD?

OCD is a neurobiological anxiety disorder.  People who have OCD are driven by obsessions (baseless fears) to perform compulsions (repetitive behaviors often called rituals) in an attempt to reduce fear, worry, doubt and anxiety.  These actions may seem to work temporarily.  But over time, performing compulsions only makes OCD worse by reinforcing the faulty messaging that is taking place in the brain.

OCD sufferers may exhibit compulsions that are easy to see, or they may perform mental compulsions (thought rituals, prayers, counting) that are nearly invisible to family, friends or co-workers.

These are examples of some common OCD obsessions.  Each of these obsessions is accompanied by compulsions, or symptoms.  Of course, there are many other visible symptoms because every person who suffers with OCD is different.  But many people suffer with the following:

Fear of Contamination

Fear of Causing Harm to Others

Fear of Loss (Hoarding)

Religious and Moral Fears

Extreme Need for Symmetry or Exactness

Need for Perfection

Sexuality Doubt

Other disorders may be present with OCD.  Each disorder has distinct symptoms, but when coexisting with OCD they can create confusing symptoms that don’t seem to fit the clinical definition of OCD.  Learning about related disorders can help you understand your own situation or that of a loved one.

Learn more about related disorders

Clinical definition of OCD

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