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Symptoms and Signs of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Doctor's Notes on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by recurrent thoughts or worries that intrude on a person's normal thinking and that the sufferer knows are excessive or unwarranted and/or repetitive behaviors the sufferer often feels compelled to perform and has difficulty resisting, either done in response to obsessions or to follow rigid rules. Anxiety and panic attacks may occur if the person is not allowed to engage in the compulsive behaviors.

Symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder include compulsions such as counting, repeating words or actions (for example, checking locks or hand washing), arranging things according to rigid rules, and praying. These behaviors are done for the purpose of preventing or decreasing anxiety or preventing an unrealistic dreaded event. The symptoms of OCD can significantly interfere with the sufferer's daily routine or functioning and may result in insomnia, difficulty concentrating at work, significant stress, or lost time spent on the obsession or compulsion. Additional symptoms in children may include tantrums when the child's ability to engage in compulsions is prevented. In teenagers symptoms of OCD may involve physical complaints.

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.