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March 19, 2012 at 12:02 PMComments: 3 Faves: 1

What Exactly is OCD?

By Brad Plaggemars More Blogs by This Author

Welcome back to Mental Marvels-where the focus is brain behavior and mental phenomenons.

Most people have either seen or heard of the T.V. show MonkMonk stars Tony Shalhoub as the brilliant detective Adrian Monk, who happens to have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  When watching Monk, one gets a small taste of what it is like to live with OCD, but what exactly is OCD?

Definition of OCD

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), is defined by as:

"an anxiety disorder characterized by unreasonable thoughts and fears (obsessions) that lead you to do repetitive behaviors (compulsions). With obsessive-compulsive disorder, you may realize that your obsessions aren't reasonable, and you may try to ignore them or stop them. But that only increases your distress and anxiety. Ultimately, you feel driven to perform compulsive acts in an effort to ease your stressful feelings."

Symptoms of OCD

The symptoms of OCD vary from many different compulsions and obsessions:

  • Fear of dirt or contamination
  • Invasive thoughts
  • Anxiety
  • Panic Attacks
  • Obsessive counting, sorting, or mind games
  • Compulsions and rituals
  • Inappropriate fear
  • Fear of hurting someone else
  • Need for order, symmetry, or exactness
  • Need for assurance
  • Repeating certain actions and speech

How Common is OCD?

In the U.S., approximately 3.3 million people have OCD.  Nearly 1/3 to 1/2 of those who have OCD started developing it during childhood.

What Are the Causes?

  • OCD can be a result of changes in the body's natural chemistry or brain functions.
  • OCD can also stem from behaviors learned over time.
  • OCD could be caused by an insufficient level of serotonin


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  • Great article Brad! People commonly think OCD is just being a "germaphobe" or wanting things perfectly straight and symmetrical, but as your post shows, it can be much more/different than that.

  • Thanks! I thought this post would point out what OCD actually is, so people could get a good idea.

  • I've been battling ocd since school, i'm now 31 years of age and i'm still struggling with severe ocd and anxiety up to the point that I had to quit my job, i'm living with parents again and try to study on the days that i feel better or "able to" my ocd is mainly thoughts that go round and round in my head I over analyse everything, and the more I "come in contact" with things - meaning the more things I actually do the more severe my ocd/anxiety get because it must be perfect and worked out in specific way, - it's VERY frustrating, but in saying that i've came a long way from were I was years back.

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