What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder? OCD Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

 You may have come across some people that almost don’t have control over their behaviors, and they act on their thoughts instantly. Today, we’ll discuss what is obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD); its symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment.

What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)? 

OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) is a chronic mental health issue comprising of obsessive and fear of unwanted patterns of thoughts resulting in the form of repetitive behavior. The obsession of thoughts and compulsion cause you a lot of stress and disturb you from performing routine functions.

If you avoid your obsession, then it would further increase the stress and anxiety level. In order to release one’s stress, the person may start behaving and acting compulsively. The urges and difficult and bothering thoughts keep on coming back no matter how much you avoid them. In other words, you get stuck in the vicious cycle of obsession, and it results in the form of ritualistic behavior.

For instance, the OCD person fears contamination and is afraid of getting germs. The person would keep on washing one’s hands in order to deal with the fear of contamination. Usually, people are embarrassed about their OCD condition.

Symptoms of OCD 

Sometimes the symptoms of OCD are either obsession or compulsion, or they’re both in combination. Usually, people don’t realize their obsession and compulsion, but it interferes with their daily routine life.

Obsession Symptoms

Obsession in OCD is the persistent and repetitive state of seeing the images and having the pattern of thoughts that are causing you stress and anxiety. People start reacting and behaving compulsively in order to avoid their obsession. However, it disturbs your life and routine functions when you need to focus on other important things. Obsession could be any of the following forms;

  • The unwanted pattern of thoughts about religion, belief, sexual, or aggression
  • Losing control over yourself by horrifying and aggressive thoughts could harm yourself and others
  • Symmetrical nature and want things in proper order
  • Difficult to tolerate uncertainty and doubting others
  • Afraid of getting germs and being contaminated

Some of the symptoms and examples of obsession are as follows;

  • Ignoring such situations that could cause obsession, hands start shaking
  • Gross sexual images
  • Behaving inappropriately and thinking about shouting obscenities
  • Seeing yourself driving a car into the public crowd
  • In-orderly things make you stressful
  • Doubting yourself that you’ve either turned off the broiler or closed the door
  • Afraid of getting contaminated when touching things

Compulsion Symptoms

Compulsion is the drive or the urge that makes you behave and act repetitively. The reason for behaving and acting repetitively is to lower the stress and anxiety level, but it only provides temporarily and the OCD person keeps on doing things again. However, the behavior becomes a ritual later when you have a pattern of unwanted thoughts. The compulsion could result in the form of following behavior and actions;

  • Wanting reassurances
  • Following the strict or fixed routine
  • Orderliness
  • Counting
  • Checking consistently
  • Cleaning and washing

Some of the main symptoms and examples of compulsion are as follows;

  • Arranging and rearranging things facing in a certain way
  • Silently praying or phrasing certain words repetitively
  • Counting a pattern
  • Keep checking the broiler to make sure it’s off
  • Checking the door to ensure that it’s locked
  • Washing your hands repetitively until your skin becomes raw

Severity of Symptoms

The symptoms of OCD usually start from young adulthood, early teen years, or childhood. They’re mild in the beginning, and gradually they become worse later and impact every function of your life. However, the experience of obsession and compulsion changes over time. When you’re feeling stressed out, then its symptoms aggravate. OCD is a lifelong mental health issue, and it could disable a person in severe cases.

Causes of OCD 

It’s difficult to understand the root cause of the obsessive-compulsive disorder, and some of the main theories about causing OCD are as follows;

  • Learning: behaving compulsively and fearful obsession could be a learned behavior by watching someone doing it
  • Genetics: OCD could be genetics; psychologists are still studying some genes
  • Biology: it may occur naturally by the changes in your brain or physical body

Risk Factors 

Some of the risk factors that could amplify the chances of developing the symptoms of OCD are as follows;

  • Mental Health Disorder: OCD is relevant to the other mental health disorders like tic disorders, substance abuse, depression, stress, and anxiety disorder
  • Stressful Life Events: if you’ve been through traumatic and stressful circumstances, then it increases the likelihood of developing OCD, and it results in the form of distressing emotion, rituals, and disturbing thoughts
  • Family: if any of your family members have these symptoms, then it amplifies your chances of developing it

Diagnosis of OCD

If a person is experiencing the symptoms of compulsion and obsession, then a licensed psychologist would diagnose the disorder and prescribe the best possible option. He would ask you some of the following questions;

  • The impacts of obsession and compulsion on your relationships in the daily life
  • Beliefs relevant to OCD seem true to you
  • Things that you suppress and avoid in your life
  • The time it has taken to develop it

Your therapist would also ask you about the medication that you’re using; it could be its side effect. What other mental health condition you’ve been facing, the symptoms of OCD could be relevant to it.

Treatment of OCD

Your therapist would prescribe the treatment of OCD could be either medication or therapy, or both in combination.


The psychologist would recommend therapeutic treatment along with medication in combination. It’s because the medication would keep the urges under control, and the therapy would teach you coping strategies to deal with emotional distress and relax your mind. It would also teach you techniques to change your unhealthy behavior pattern and difficult thoughts. Your therapist can use any of the following therapeutic approaches;

  • Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy: mindfulness teaches you to carefully observe your distressed thoughts and deal with it
  • ERP (Exposure and Response Prevention): ERP is a subtype of CBT comprising of exposing you to difficult situations gradually, and it helps you to find the main cause of obsession and compulsion and deal with it healthily. It teaches you to deal with your obsessions without acting compulsively.
  • CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy): it comprises of recognizing the triggering thoughts and reframing your mind towards difficult thoughts

Your therapist would recommend any of the therapy depending on the severity of the symptoms and other factors.


Your therapist could prescribe any of the following medications;

  • Namenda (memantine): amplifies of impacts of SSRIs
  • Abilify (antipsychotic like aripiprazole) or Risperdal (risperidone): increases the effects of SSRIs
  • Anafranil (tricyclic antidepressant clomipramine); it’s not the first-line treatment
  • SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors): like sertraline or fluoxetine

Conclusion: What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder? OCD Symptoms, Causes, Treatment 

After an in-depth study of what is obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD); its symptoms, causes, treatment; we’ve realized that OCD could badly impact your life. If you’re experiencing any of the abovementioned symptoms, then consult the licensed therapist.