Obsessions are unwanted thoughts or impulses that cause a person
||Thoughts or fear of dirt or
||Thoughts or fear of losing
||Thoughts or fear of injury to
others or self
Compulsions are rituals or repeated behaviors that a person does.
||Excessive hand washing or
cleaning the house many times during the day
||Endless organizing of closets,
||Excessive list making,
||Checking and re-checking to
make sure doors are locked, water faucets and/or gas stoves
are turned off, etc.
The repeated acts are an attempt to reduce the anxiety felt with
an obsession. Excessive hand washing, for example, helps a person
deal with obsessive thoughts or fear of dirt or contamination.
Persons can have obsessive thoughts without compulsions. And rituals
or repeated behaviors can take place without obsessions.
In and of themselves, compulsive behaviors are often nothing to
worry about. For some people, they result in a high standard of
performance in their work and other activities. When a person is
preoccupied with obsessions and compulsions, though, it can keep him
or her from doing daily living tasks. It can also be a sign of a
problem called obsessive-compulsive disorder. This disorder is a
type of anxiety disorder which generally causes moderate to severe
distress. A person with this disorder needs professional treatment.
About 2% of Americans suffer from an obsessive-compulsive
disorder (OCD) at some time in their lives. The disorder often
begins during the teen or early adult years, but may begin in
childhood. Obsessive-compulsive disorders affect males and females
equally, but usually begin earlier in males.
A problem in brain function could be a cause of OCD. Heredity
also plays a role.