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Obsessive Compulsive  Disorder

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder in which the person experiences either obsessions or compulsions that interfere with normal life functioning. Obsessions are persistent ideas or thoughts or impulses that intrude on your thoughts, and cause significant distress in your life. Compulsions are repetitive behaviors that are performed in an effort to reduce anxiety. (Typically the anxiety is caused by obsessions). Approximately 2 percent of the population develop an obsessive compulsive disorder during their lifetime.

It is important to note that obsessions are not just excessive worrying about real problems, as that would be a generalized anxiety disorder. Also, the person with OCD typically tries to ignore these thoughts and ideas. An individual with a psychotic disorder may ruminate on a single idea, but would not try to avoid thinking about it, as obsessive ideas do not generate the same kind of personal distress when they occur as part of a psychotic process.

This disorder results in significant distress. Most people with OCD spend a lot of time during the day dealing with either obsessions, compulsions, or both. These obsessions and compulsions significantly interfere with their normal life functioning. OCD can develop in childhood, but most often it develops in adolescence or young adults.

Intrusive thoughts are very common in the general population. Most of the time, stress leads to intrusive thoughts, and individuals who are depressed are also more likely to develop intrusive thoughts. It appears that those people who develop an OCD response to these intrusive thoughts may have a severe biologically based emotional response to stress. It should be noted that OCD is very resistant to treatment, and an individual with OCD will need treatment over an extended period of time.

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