Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder. The person suffers from unwanted repetitive thoughts and behaviors.
The cause is of OCD is unknown. OCD may be due to neurobiological, environmental, genetic, and psychological factors. An imbalance of a brain chemical called serotonin may play a major role.
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Factors that may increase the risk of OCD include:
Symptoms may include:
Conditions associated with OCD include:
If you have OCD, you may know that your thoughts and compulsions do not make sense, but you are unable to stop them.
OCD is usually diagnosed through a psychiatric assessment. OCD is diagnosed when obsessions and/or compulsions either:
Treatment reduces OCD thoughts and compulsions, but does not completely eliminate them. Common treatment approaches include a combination of medication and therapy.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) reduce OCD symptoms by affecting serotonin levels. Tricyclic antidepressants can also help treat symptoms.
Your doctor may try using other psychiatric medications to help control your condition.
Behavioral therapy addresses the actions associated with OCD. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) addresses both the thought processes and the actions associated with OCD.
Treatment of OCD is tailored to meet your particular needs.
Examples of therapies used to treat OCD include:
There are no guidelines for preventing OCD because the cause is not known. However, early intervention may be helpful.
Anxiety Disorders Association of America
International OCD Foundation
Canadian Mental Health Association
Canadian Psychological Association
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/ . Updated June 27, 2013. Accessed September 9, 2013.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health website. Available at: http://www.nimh.ni... . Accessed September 9, 2013.
OCD risk higher when several variations in gene occur together. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: http://www.nimh.ni... . Published April 7, 2008. Accessed September 9, 2013.
4/16/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php : Simpson HB, Foa EB, Liebowitz MR, et al. A randomized, controlled trial of cognitive-behavioral therapy for augmenting pharmacotherapy in obsessive-compulsive disorder. Am J Psychiatry. 2008;165:621-630. Epub 2008 Mar 3.
Last reviewed September 2013 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 9/30/2013