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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

What is it?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a type of anxiety disorder. It is characterized by unwanted, intrusive thoughts (obsessions), repetitive behaviours (compulsions), or both. While the term “OCD” is used loosely in everyday speech, the real condition can produce serious symptoms.
Some common symptoms are an obsession with violent thoughts, rituals such as repeatedly opening and closing a door, repetitive hand-washing, fear of certain numbers, and relationship-related obsessions. Not all the personality traits are negative, an attention to detail and careful planning can be positive characteristics.
Because of these extreme behaviours people with OCD may appear paranoid or psychotic; however, they usually recognize their thoughts and behaviour are irrational.

What causes it?

As with other anxiety disorders OCD can result from a combination of genetics, brain chemistry, and some brain structures (i.e. the amount of grey matter in various parts of the brain.) Environmental factors may also play a role.

Treatment considerations

Behaviour Therapy and psychological counselling can help people suffering from OCD. In some cases medications may help.

Developmental considerations

There are no major developmental considerations for people with OCD.

Looking down the road

Treatment can lead to a substantial reduction of OCD symptoms, however some symptoms are likely to persist. In most cases the symptoms should be manageable.


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