Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is characterized by persistent obsessions and compulsions that interfere with the person’s academic, social and occupational life. Obsessions are images, impulses and thoughts that cause significant distress and anxiety. The person feels that these obsessions are unreasonable and beyond their control. They try to neutralize their distress by performing some overt or mental action (compulsion). Unfortunately the obsessions come back again and again leading the person to have a life plagued by rituals that are often very time consuming (e.g. their grooming may take excessive time) and interfere with their overall functioning (e.g. they may be frequently late).
Frequent obsessions include fears of contamination, obsessive doubts, aggressive or sexual obsessions, fears of having hurt somebody or having made serious mistakes. Some compulsions include excessive checking, washing, repetitive demands of reassurance, making rigid personal rituals, etc. These obsessions and compulsions increase in severity and frequency in times of distress.
The treatment of choice for Obsessive Compulsive Behavior (OCD) is Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). It is a sub type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy that has been shown to be highly effective in the recovery of OCD sufferers.