Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

What is obsessive compulsive disorder?

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder that causes a person to have obsessions and compulsions. An obsession is an unwanted thought that stays in your mind most of the time. You cannot stop or control this thought. A compulsion is something you do and cannot stop doing because of the obsessive thought. You may become very anxious if you try to stop the compulsion.

What causes or increases my risk of OCD?

The exact cause of OCD is unknown. OCD may be caused by changes in brain chemicals that affect your mood. You may have an increased risk of OCD if other family members have it. A previous head injury or brain injury may also increase your risk. Stressful events, such as the death of a loved one or job change, may trigger OCD in some people.

What are the signs and symptoms of OCD?

  • You have repeated thoughts that you cannot control, such as a fear of dirt, germs, or intruders. You may have a behavior that you cannot stop, such as washing your hands over and over. You may have an obsession or compulsion about keeping your body or everything around you clean. You may check many times to see if your doors are locked.

  • The signs of OCD may be better or worse at times. You may feel that what you are thinking and doing is wrong, but you still need to do it. Instead of asking for help, you try to hide your thoughts or behaviors. You may not want to see or talk to anyone. Your thoughts and behaviors may prevent you from being able to do your daily activities.

How is OCD diagnosed and treated?

Your healthcare provider will ask you several questions about your thoughts and behaviors. Treatment may include any of the following:

  • Medicines , such as antidepressants, may be given to treat the symptoms of OCD. You may need to take this medicine for several weeks before you begin to feel better. Tell your healthcare provider about any side effects or problems you have with your medicine. Sometimes the type or amount of medicine may need to be changed. Other medicines may also be given.

  • Therapy may be used to treat your OCD. A therapist will help you learn to cope with your thoughts and feelings. This can be done alone or in a group. It may also be done with family members or a significant other.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You are not able to sleep well or are sleeping more than usual.

  • You cannot eat or are eating more than usual.

  • You cannot make it to your next appointment.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

  • You think about harming yourself or someone else.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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