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Obsessive-compulsive disorder (better known as OCD) is a psychiatric anxiety-based disorder characterized by obsessive
thoughts and compulsive actions.  It can be a potentially disabling and persistent condition that can trap the person in a pattern of
spectrum from mild to severe, but if severe and left untreated, can destroy a person's capacity to function at work, at school, or even
in the home.

The obsessions are repetitive unwanted ideas or impulses like an unreasonable concern with becoming contaminated, or an
excessive need to do things correctly or perfectly.  These thoughts become intrusive, unpleasant, and anxiety evoking.  The
opposite reaction to the obsessive thoughts are the matching compulsions, that are thought to be used to attempt to eradicate the
obsession.  Resorting to compulsive behaviour, while though to be a solution by the person affected, actually exacerbate the
condition.   For example, an obsessive thought about hands being contaminated may lead to a continuous compulsion for hand
washing.  Although the most common obsession and compulsion seem to be washing and checking, other compulsive
behaviours include counting, repeating, and endlessly rearranging objects.  Mentally repeating phrases, listmaking and hoarding
are slightly less common, but also occur.  

OCD is a wide range spectrum type disability, meaning that it can present itself in a minor irritating way, but can also be severely
incapacitating.  Additionally, the types of behaviours can range from regimented rituals that rarely change to complex and constantly
evolving new rituals.  Sufferers of OCD report that the compulsions and rituals often provide temporary relief, but eventually
exacerbate the problem.  

Years ago, OCD was believed to be related to life experiences, and this has some basis in the reporting of OCD sufferers who say
that their condition waxes and wanes with the stress in their lives.   However, new evidence shows that biological factors may have
a primary contributing effect; the fact that some OCD patients respond to medications that affect the neurotransmitter serotonin
seems to suggest that OCD may have a primary neurobiological basis.  

OCD often co-exists with other conditions like depression, anxiety disorders, Tourette's Syndrome, some forms of autism,
substance abuse disorders, and ADD.  

Treatment is by cognitive behavioral therapy and/or medication. One patient may benefit significantly from behavior therapy, while
another will benefit from pharmacotherapy. Some others may use both medication and behavior therapy. Others may begin with
medication to gain control over their symptoms and then continue with behavior therapy.

Traditional psychotherapy, aimed at helping the patient develop insight into his or her problem, is generally not helpful for OCD.
However, a specific behavior therapy approach called "exposure and response prevention" is effective for many people with OCD. In
this approach, the patient deliberately and voluntarily confronts the feared object or idea, either directly or by imagination. At the
same time the patient is strongly encouraged to refrain from ritualizing, with support and structure provided by the therapist, and
possibly by others whom the patient recruits for assistance. For example, a compulsive hand washer may be encouraged to touch
an object believed to be contaminated, and then urged to avoid washing for several hours until the anxiety provoked has greatly
decreased. Treatment then proceeds on a step-by-step basis, guided by the patient's ability to tolerate the anxiety and control the
rituals. As treatment progresses, most patients gradually experience less anxiety from the obsessive thoughts and are able to
resist the compulsive urges.

Studies of behavior therapy for OCD have found it to be a successful treatment for the majority of patients who complete it. For the
treatment to be successful, it is important that the therapist be fully trained to provide this specific form of therapy. It is also helpful
for the patient to be highly motivated and have a positive, determined attitude. The positive effects of behavior therapy endure once
treatment has ended.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder


There is perhaps nothing so bad
and so dangerous in life as fear.
Jawaharlail Nehru

"Do the thing we fear, and the death
of fear is certain"
Ralph Waldo Emerson

"The only thing to fear is fear itself"
Franklin D. Roosevelt
OCD has given us planes, science,
astronomy, auto manufacturing,
and more.
Celebrities with OCD:

Justin Timerlake
Cameron Diaz
Dan Ackroyd