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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
      Category : Health Centers > Mental Health (Mental Disorders)

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Alternate Names : OCD, Obsessive-Compulsive Neurosis

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, also called OCD, is a type of anxiety disorder. A person who has OCD has recurring or repeated obsessions and/or compulsions. Obsessions are thoughts, ideas, or images that persist in the mind. Compulsions are mental acts or behaviors that are carried out repeatedly. These obsessions and compulsions are severe enough to be time-consuming. They may also cause a fair amount of distress or impairment. The impairment can interfere with everyday activities.

What is going on in the body?

The exact cause of OCD is not known. Recent studies have shown abnormal patterns of brain activity in people with OCD. The abnormalities occur in a part of the brain called the striatum. Obsessive-compulsive behaviors may be an attempt by the person to reduce anxiety. People who have OCD usually know that their behavior and thoughts are inappropriate. This recognition is distressing to them.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

The exact cause of OCD is not known. It generally begins in childhood or adolescence. OCD tends to run in families. The sense of helplessness and the impairment with OCD may lead to depression. OCD is often seen together with other psychiatric disorders, such as the following:

  • alcohol abuse
  • attention deficit disorders
  • depression
  • drug abuse or addiction
  • eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia
  • other anxiety disorders


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    Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Ann Reyes, Ph.D.
    Reviewer: Gail Hendrickson, RN, BS
    Date Reviewed: 09/11/01

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