Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) involves having repeated obsessions or compulsions that that are severe enough to be time-consuming or cause significant impairment.
Obsessions are persistent ideas, thoughts, impulses, or images that are intrusive and inappropriate. People with OCD often feel like they have no control over these activities, even as they recognize that these things are products of their own mind and not from an outside source. The most common obsessions are about contamination (such as “germs” from shaking hands), repeated doubts, a need to have things in a particular order, or aggressive or horrific impulses (such as the impulse to hurt one’s child or yell obscenities in church). An individual with such obsessions attempts to ignore or suppress them with various actions or thoughts that they feel compelled to engage in to prevent some dreaded event or situation.
Compulsions are repetitive behaviors associated with the obsessions. Examples include constant hand washing; repeated cleaning, straightening, and checking on things; and counting or repeating words silently. By performing these actions, individuals may feel reduced anxiety or stress. People with OCD may recognize that their actions are unreasonable, yet also feel they have no control over performing them. In some cases obsessions and compulsions can consume considerable amounts of time in the course of a day and can interfere significantly with normal routines, occupations, social activities, or relationships.