Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is marked by repetitive, intrusive, unwanted thoughts, often about unpleasant or uncomfortable topics. Examples include killing or injuring someone, being gay if one is actually heterosexual, or acquiring infection by germs or parasites. These obsessive thoughts can cause great anxiety. In OCD, the anxiety (or the obsession) is often relieved by engaging in a ritual that lessens the anxiety, which is a specific sort of action called a compulsion. These compulsions often involve hand washing, repeating actions a particular number of times (like flicking light switches), or having particular thoughts/saying particular words to oneself. These behaviors relieve the associated obsessions. Often, there is an understandable, obvious connection between the obsession and the compulsion. For instance, someone with obsessive thoughts of contamination likely engages in hand washing compulsions. In addition to significant amounts of distress, people with OCD often encounter problems in work and social settings when compulsions become time-consuming and overly distracting.
Wondering if you might have OCD? Take an OCD screening test.