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Mental Health

What is the meaning of obessive compulsive disorder?

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July 12, 2009 10:34AM

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a psychiatric disorder which is characterised by obsessive thoughts that plague the sufferer and compulsive actions which the person do to relieve the anxiety brought about by the thoughts. An obsessive thought is a recurrent persistent thought (kind of like that annoying song that loops in your head once in a while), which causes the person anxiety and distress. The person typically knows the thought is silly but just can't help thinking about it, no matter how hard he or she tries. A common example portrayed on many TV shows is the thought that all public places are contaminated. The person will keep thinking every door handle and elevator button is covered in germs, to the point that he is afraid of going out, or if he or she does, will do so with great trepidation. To relieve the anxiety wrought by the thoughts, the sufferer does something repetitively that may or may not be related to the thought. To rid himself of contamination, a sufferer may wash his hands 20 times in a ritualistic fashion after contact with something 'dirty'. Failure to complete the routine results in severe anxiety. Other people may have have counting behaviors such as counting the cracks in the sidewalk. Many people actually have a certain degree of obsessiveness or compulsive behavior but it usually does not disrupt their everyday lives. When it becomes bad enough, say you keep worrying about whether you left the stove on and keep going home to check it and thus become 2 hours late for work, then obviously it becomes a problem. This is what differentiates an obsessive compulsive trait from a disorder.