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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) - Definition, Symptoms & Causes

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is characterised by anxiety. Obsessions are defined as intrusive and recurrent ideas, images or thoughts which cause anxiety. Compulsions are defined as repetitive rituals which are carried out in order to reduce the anxiety or prevent a dreaded event. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) causes distress as obsessions and compulsions consume time, cause delays, and disrupt day to day life. OCD may also impact on personal relationships or work relationships.

Symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

The main symptom of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is anxiety. When a person with OCD attempts to resist their obsessions and compulsions, anxiety rises. Obsessions may be about aggression, doubt, criminality, contamination, order, or sex. Compulsions may be to check, reassure, clean, collect, count, wash, or say words. OCD may appear to be 'logical' as in hand washing to prevent contamination, or superstitious as in believing that saying words to oneself will prevent someone from dying.

Causes of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) may be related to avoidance behaviour, having first degree relatives with OCD, defences against aggressive or sexual drives, guilt, or other Anxiety Disorders such as Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Panic Disorder, Social Phobia, or Specific Phobias. OCD may also be related to Eating Disorders, stress, or Personality Disorders (PD) such as Avoidant Personality Disorder (APD), Dependent Personality Disorder (DPD), or Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) .

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Updated 07 July 2011