Obsessions are things you just can't stop thinking about, even if you want to. They could be worries, ideas, images, or urges to do something. Having an obsession usually makes you anxious and uncomfortable.
A compulsion is a strong urge to do something over and over even though you don't want to or don't think you should. A compulsion often involves doing something to relieve the anxiety of an obsession. For example, if you're obsessed with germs you may have a compulsion to wash your hands many times a day even though your hands aren't dirty.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental disorder that includes obsessions, compulsions, or both.
Most obsessions and compulsions are related to concerns about harms or risks, such as dirt, disorder, fire, or theft
People with OCD may spend hours each day thinking about their obsessions and acting on their compulsions, which causes problems in their daily lives
Some people with OCD know that their worries are unrealistic, but others feel they are reasonable
Treatment can include a special type of therapy and medicines
Common obsessions include:
People may try to ignore or control their obsessions. But if they can't, they may get more anxious.
Common compulsions include:
Usually, the compulsion has to be done exactly the same way each time and sometimes repeated a specific number of times.
Some compulsions can be noticed by others (such as repeatedly locking and unlocking a door). Other compulsions are more private (such as counting to oneself).
Most people worry about things. And lots of people are very clean and orderly and have particular ways they like to do things. Doctors think having obsessions or compulsions is a disorder only if they:
For example, many people once in a while leave their house and then go back to check that the stove is off. But you have OCD if you keep going back to the house over and over to check that you turned off the stove. Having OCD can lead to problems in your life, for example, always being late for work because of the constant checking.
Doctors treat OCD using one or both of the following:
For example, if you're obsessed about germs and have a compulsion to wash your hands, the therapist may ask you to touch a clean toilet seat and then not wash your hands.