Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (or OCD) is marked by repetitive, intrusive, unwanted thoughts, often about unpleasant or uncomfortable topics. Examples are killing or injuring someone, being gay if one is actually heterosexual, or infection by germs or parasites. These obsessional thoughts bring great anxiety. The anxiety is often relieved by engaging in a ritual that makes the person feel better, a specific sort of action called a compulsion. These compulsions often involve washing, or doing something a particular number of times like flicking light switches, or thinking particular thoughts or saying particular words to oneself. The behavior brings relief from anxiety. Often the compulsion is an understandable response to the obsession, like when someone with obsessive thoughts of contamination engages in hand washing compulsions. As well as significant amounts of distress, OCD often causes problems in work and social life when compulsions become time-consuming.
Wondering if you might have OCD? Take an OCD screening test.