Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is a chronic condition in which an individual is driven by obsessions and compulsive behavior arising from these obsessions. The symptoms of OCD include time-consuming rituals related to intrusive, unwanted, reoccurring thoughts which disrupt a person’s daily life and cause major distress.
It’s common for one to joke, “It’s my OCD!” or “I just have OCD about these sorts of things,” but the reality of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is no laughing matter. OCD is a serious disorder and chronic condition that affects 1.2% of people in the U.S. every year and it’s more than just being occasionally obsessive or anxious about something.
Individuals with OCD have reoccurring unwanted, intrusive thoughts, impulses or obsessions that lead them to engage in compulsive, repetitive behavior. The majority of people diagnosed with OCD have both obsessions and compulsions, although a small minority do have only one of the two. These behaviors and rituals are time-consuming, disrupt basic functioning, interfere with one’s daily life and cause major distress to the individual. Rituals in those diagnosed with OCD usually take up at least one hour or more per day.
Those with OCD may be very well aware that their compulsions and obsessions are irrational, but that does not make them less prone to engaging in rituals to ward off the obsessive thoughts and impulses they may have.
The Symptoms of OCD
Common obsessions in individuals with OCD include but are certainly not limited to:
Cleanliness and fear of contamination.
A person with this type of obsession may demonstrate an excessive focus on keeping themselves “clean” by washing their hands compulsively, avoiding physical contact with people, or attempting to safeguard themselves against the threat of contamination in other ways.
Order and symmetry.
Individuals obsessed with order and symmetry might “need” certain items to be in a certain place, to demonstrate symmetry or be organized by a specific theme. While people without OCD can do this as well, in individuals with OCD this obsession becomes time-consuming and ritualistic.