The two defining symptoms of OCD are obsessive thoughts and compulsive rituals. The symptoms are bad enough to be time-consuming, cause functional impairments or be significantly distressing.
Obsessions are persistent, repeated, anxiety-provoking or distressing thoughts that intrude into a person's consciousness. Obsessions vary and can relate to any kind of fear. Here are some common ones:
Often, an adult with OCD will recognize that the obsessive thoughts are not realistic and will try to ignore them or suppress them. But sometimes they get temporary relief by performing a compulsive ritual.
Compulsive rituals are persistent, excessive, repetitive behaviors. The goal of the ritual is to reduce the anxiety caused by obsessive thoughts. Examples include:
Anyone may feel compelled to recheck a locked door or wash hands to assure cleanliness. By themselves, such behaviors do not mean a person has OCD.
In OCD, the obsessions and compulsions are excessive and distressing. They are time-consuming, sometimes eating up several hours each day. They may interfere with personal relationships, as well as performance at work or school. Some compulsions may cause physical injury. For example, compulsive hand washing can lead to chapped hands and dermatitis, while excessive tooth brushing can cause torn, bleeding gums.
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