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OCD - What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder? - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe what Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is, how it begins, and when it may be time to seek professional help - click here.

Does your mind obsessively focus on the same thought?

Do you find yourself worrying about a task or chore that shouldn’t be bothering you? Does calming down involve performing senseless rituals such as checking locks, washing hands, or counting items?

You may be one of the millions of people who suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder or “OCD”. Approximately 90% of individuals with OCD experience obsessive thoughts and perform compulsive acts. Around two thirds of individuals with OCD experience multiple obsessions and perform many types of compulsive acts.

Men and women develop OCD at approximately the same rates. However if OCD begins in childhood, boys tends to develop it at a higher rate than girls. Most cases develop in late adolescence between 18 to 24 years of age.

Here are some important points to keep in mind:

Imagined Horrors:

OCD symptoms begin with obsessive thoughts. Your mind creates an intrusive, horrific thought that appears without warning. The thought is often totally at odds with your current situation and often is some form of catastrophic thinking. The thoughts are almost always disturbing since they usually involve some type of natural disaster, unimaginable crime, or world shaking event occurring.

Simple Penance:

The OCD mind offers a solution to the obsessive worry. The compulsive behavior is the mind’s solution to preventing disaster. If you only check the door locks again or clean the bathroom several more times, the imagined disaster can be avoided. Compulsions are usually either mental rituals like obsessively counting or behavioral sequences like cleaning your hands multiple times in a row.

Undertreated Disorder:

Millions of people struggle with OCD every single day, and the relentless pattern can torture sufferers for years. Many people are embarrassed about the disorder and are reluctant to seek professional help. According to the Harvard Medical School Health Guide, around 10% of OCD patients are ultimately cured and about 50% of OCD cases improve but still struggle with their symptoms every day.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder can be a very serious condition. If you think someone you know may have OCD, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.


"Brain Lock: Free Yourself from Obsessive Compulsive Behavior" by Jeffrey Schwartz and Beverly Beyette, 1997

E.B. Foa, and M.J. Kozak, 1995, DSM IV, Field Trial, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry, 152. 90 to 96.

"Overcoming Obsessive Thoughts: How to Gain Control of Your OCD" by David Clark and Christine Purdon

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