Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive compulsive disorder is sometimes called OCD. The symptoms can include obsessions, compulsions, or both.

  • Obsessions. These are frequent upsetting thoughts, impulses, or images that happen over and over even if you try to ignore them. They are not wanted, so they cause anxiety and stress.

  • Compulsions. These are having repeating behaviors or thoughts and using certain rules or rituals every time. The purpose is an attempt to make the obsessions go away and stop the anxiety and stress.

Some examples include:

  • Feeling the need to repeat certain actions over and over, such as handwashing, saying the same words, or counting items

  • Rechecking actions many times, such as checking many times to make sure the stove is turned off or that the door is locked.

  • Not being able to take your attention off of disturbing thoughts that repeat over and over

OCD usually does not go away on its own. It can prevent you from doing well at work and in relationships. People with OCD often hide their symptoms because of fear or embarrassment. Some people with OCD self-medicate with alcohol or drugs to try to control the symptoms. Without treatment, relationships often deteriorate and performance in school or at work may decline. Medicine and psychotherapy may help a great deal. Many people get better and are able to return to their usual activities.

Home care

These tips for taking care of yourself at home may help: 

  • Ongoing care and support helps people manage this disease. Find a healthcare provider and therapist who understand OCD and can meet your needs. Seek help when you feel like your symptoms are getting worse. 

  • If you have been given medicine, take it as directed. Don't share your medicines or take another person’s medicines.

  • Tell all your healthcare providers about all the prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and supplements you take. Certain supplements interact with medicines. They can result in dangerous side effects. Ask your pharmacist when you have questions about medicine interactions.

  • Seek support from trusted friends or family by talking about your feelings and thoughts.

  • Ask your therapist about peer support groups for people with OCD.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your therapist and healthcare provider, or as advised. 

When to seek medical advice

Call your therapist or healthcare provider right away if any of these happen:

  • Worsening of your OCD symptoms

  • Worsening depression or anxiety

  • Feeling out of control

  • Thoughts of harming yourself or another

  • Being unable to care for yourself

  • Having family or friends ask you to get help for worsening symptoms

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