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Symptoms and Treatment Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Abstract: Introduction to OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), its symptoms and treatment.

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Symptoms and Treatment Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

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Written by: Gunborg Palme, certified psychologist and psychotherapist, teacher and tutor of psychotherapy.
First version: 22 Jul 2008.
Latest revision: 23 Aug 2008.

Tell me about the symptoms and treatment of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).


About 2-3 % of all people are afflicted with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). OCD is associated with particular brain structures, which have some similarity to brain structures in people with more severe psychic disorders.

The symptoms of OCD can vary from patient to patient. Here are some examples of symptoms which may occur for OCD patients:

  • Abnormal need to shower, wash their hands, brush their teeth, sometimes for hours at a time.
  • Need to repeat safety questions, like "did I lock the door" many times, or to repeatedly check that the door is locked or the stove is off or something similar.
  • Need to adhere to rigorous personal rules of what is acceptable or not acceptable, like where to walk, what to eat, how to walk, how to eat, etc.
  • Repeated unwanted or unreasonable thoughts or impulses can make you do something illegal or dangerous.
  • Abnormal anxiety over dirt and germs.
  • Need to have your life organized in a particular way; things must for example be placed in particular places and aligned in a particular way.

OCD can have different strength for different people. Some people with mild OCD can live a normal life, other people with strong OCD can be very disabled by this illness.

OCD is difficult to treat, but anti-depressant, so-called SSRI (more) drugs will often help. The drug treatment can be combined with cognitive behavioural psychotherapy (more). Other psychiatric drugs can sometimes help if combined with SSRI drugs. Note that SSRI drugs are usually necessary for success with psychotherapy or other drugs.

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