Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Alternative Names

Obsessive-compulsive neurosis; OCD

Definition of Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder in which people have unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, ideas, sensations (obsessions), or behaviors that make them feel driven to do something (compulsions).

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is more common than was once thought. Most people who develop it show symptoms by age 30.

Signs and tests

Your own description of the behavior can help diagnose the disorder. A physical exam can rule out physical causes, and a psychiatric evaluation can rule out other mental disorders.

Treatment

OCD is treated using medications and therapy.

Expectations (prognosis)

OCD is a long-term (chronic) illness with periods of severe symptoms followed by times of improvement. However, a completely symptom-free period is unusual. Most people improve with treatment.

Review

Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine; and Michelle Benger Merrill, MD, Instructor in Clinical Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 2/11/2010

Obsessive-compulsive disorder

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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