Many times we go back to our car parking to confirm if we had locked our car. Also, it is only prudent to double-check if you have switched the lights off before leaving your room. However, being obsessed about certain thoughts and/or feeling the urge of repeating some sort of behavior is not normal. For instance, one needs to know that if s/he is spending more than usual time in cleaning their hands frequently due to some morbid fear of germs, it’s time they asked for some help.

Such anxiety disorder, which is characterized by unwanted intrusive thoughts or ideas (obsessions), and repetitive behaviors (compulsions) is known as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Let’s know more about OCD, its causes, and treatment:

What are obsessions?

Obsessions are ideas, images, and impulses which run through a person's mind over and over again, causing them extreme anxiety. More often than not, people with OCD do realize that their impulses or thoughts do not make any sense; however, their intrusive thoughts are quite frequent and they start interfering in their daily routine. Typical obsessions include:

young woman looking at her fingers sceptically
  • Fear of contamination with bacteria.
  • Precise arranging and need of symmetry.
  • Unwanted sexual images and thoughts.
  • Concerns about throwing valuable things.

What are compulsions?

Repetitive behaviors or mental acts are mainly known as compulsions. These compulsive behaviors or rituals are mainly aimed at preventing distress, as people affected with OCD rely on compulsions to deal with their obsessions, in absence of any better and effective solution. Common compulsions include:

someone washing hands
  • Washing hands excessively in response to an obsession.
  • Arranging or balancing things until they are ‘right’.
  • Cleaning household things repeatedly.
  • Repeated checking behaviors.

Causes of OCD

OCD is a common disorder and anyone can get affected by it – adolescents, children, or adults. The causes of OCD are not known, but there are certain risk factors, such as:

mother sitting with her teenage daughter, both looking gloomy
  • Genetic influence: There is a strong hereditability for OCD, with 45- 65% genetic influence in children.
  • Neurological conditions: Brain insult by brain trauma or stimulant abuse is apparently connected to OCD symptoms.
  • Stress: Stress can worsen the symptoms of OCD.
  • Interpersonal relations: OCD symptoms can interact negatively with interpersonal relations. Also, people who have experienced any sort of abuse or trauma in childhood, are at a greater risk for developing OCD.


Typical treatments for OCD are aimed at reducing the anxiety or combinations of compulsive thoughts and behaviors. The main treatments for OCD are:

group of young people at a group therapy
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – CBT is the most effective treatment for OCD. In fact, a type of CBT known as Expose and Response Prevention (ERP) is effective in reducing compulsive behaviors.
  • Medication – Most usually, antidepressants are tried as a part of medication in the nascent phase. Potent serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs), and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) help to control the obsessions and compulsions in people with OCD.
  • Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) – In extreme cases where the traditional treatment approaches don’t work, DBS is considered as another treatment for OCD symptoms. However, researches related to this surgery’s efficiency are still in progress.

OCD is a chronic condition, and it requires a lot of courage and determination to control it. However, the best way to cope with any such challenging problem is to learn about it. Stay focused as you go about your daily activities and channelize your energy in a positive manner through right medication, right food, and right exercise. Take charge of your life and don’t let your OCD come in the way of your happiness.

If you have any queries related to OCD, you can consult a psychologist at

About the Author

Vidhi Ghildiyal

Vidhi is a writer and blogger with more than 6 years of experience in developing content for varied verticals.

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