Signs & Symptoms of OCD


In the broadest sense, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) can be defined as a mental disorder in which unwanted or undesired thoughts take over a person's thinking. It is estimated that as many as 4 million people in the US suffer from OCD.

The majority of people diagnosed with OCD do not receive the diagnosis until they're at least 19 years of age, although for most people the symptoms begin to appear much sooner, typically in childhood. That said, it all depends on the individual.

OCD itself is believed to have its origins in the areas of the brain involved in anxiety and fear. Sometimes it is found to run in families, but this by no means suggests that there is evidence that the disorder has genetic origins. It could merely be from environmental or familial factors.

Signs & Symptoms of OCD

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of OCD is important, both for potential patients and caregivers alike.

According to the National Institutes of Mental Health, part of the US National Institutes of Health, there are at least five recognized signs and symptoms of OCD:

  • -- Experience repetitive thoughts and see repeated mental images about any number of things related to fears or worries, including fear of germs or dirt, fear of violent acts, of injuring loved ones; obsessive thoughts or images relating to things like cleanliness, sex, religion.
  • -- Perform the same tasks over and over in a ritualistic manner, such as hand-washing (which is one of the more commonly performed rituals among people with OCD--as many as half of all OCD patients ritually wash their hands) , counting, locking a door, or any act that requires a number of repeatable steps.
  • -- Inability to control these unwanted thoughts or behaviors.
  • -- The performance of the behaviors bring no pleasure, but they do relieve the anxiety of the thoughts.
  • -- At least one hour every day is given over to these behaviors, thoughts and rituals. The resulting distress, combined with the behaviors or thoughts themselves, become so intrusive as to get in the way of one's daily life.


OCD is a life-altering disorder that can successfully be treated, but it must first be diagnosed by a qualified health professional. If you think you have OCD or you see the signs and symptoms in a loved one, reach out to a certified mental health care professional in your area.

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Do you or a loved one feel like you might have a problem with OCD? Take the Self Test now to get more information.

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