Symptoms of Obsessive-compulsive disorder
General information about symptoms of Obsessive-compulsive disorder: The symptom information on this page attempts to provide a list of some possible symptoms of Obsessive-compulsive disorder. This symptom information has been gathered from various sources, may not be fully accurate, and may not be the full list of symptoms of Obsessive-compulsive disorder. Furthermore, symptoms of Obsessive-compulsive disorder may vary on an individual basis for each patient. Only your doctor can provide adequate diagnosis of symptoms and whether they are indeed symptoms of Obsessive-compulsive disorder.
List of symptoms of Obsessive-compulsive disorder: The list of symptoms mentioned in various sources for Obsessive-compulsive disorder includes:
- Compulsions - ritualized or repetitive behaviors
- Obsessions - disturbing thoughts or images
Symptoms of Obsessive-compulsive disorder: Obsessive-compulsive disorder is characterized by anxious thoughts or rituals you feel you canít control. If you have OCD, as itís called, you may be plagued by persistent, unwelcome thoughts or images, or by the urgent need to engage in certain rituals.
You may feel obsessed with germs or dirt, so you wash your hands over and over. You may be filled with doubt and feel the need to check things repeatedly. You might be preoccupied by thoughts of violence and fear that you will harm people close to you. You may spend long periods of time touching things or counting; you may be preoccupied by order or symmetry; you may have persistent thoughts of performing sexual acts that are repugnant to you; or you may be troubled by thoughts that are against your religious beliefs.
The disturbing thoughts or images are called obsessions, and the rituals that are performed to try to prevent or dispel them are called compulsions. There is no pleasure in carrying out the rituals you are drawn to, only temporary relief from the discomfort caused by the obsession.1
Most adults with this condition recognize that what theyíre doing is senseless, but they canít stop it. Some people, though, particularly children with OCD, may not realize that their behavior is out of the ordinary. 1
"I couldn't do anything without rituals. They invaded every aspect of my life. Counting really bogged me down. I would wash my hair three times as opposed to once because three was a good luck number and one wasn't. It took me longer to read because I'd count the lines in a paragraph. When I set my alarm at night, I had to set it to a number that wouldn't add up to a "bad" number.
"Getting dressed in the morning was tough because I had a routine, and if I didn't follow the routine, I'd get anxious and would have to get dressed again. I always worried that if I didn't do something, my parents were going to die. I'd have these terrible thoughts of harming my parents. That was completely irrational, but the thoughts triggered more anxiety and more senseless behavior. Because of the time I spent on rituals, I was unable to do a lot of things that were important to me.
"I knew the rituals didn't make sense, and I was deeply ashamed of them, but I couldn't seem to overcome them until I had therapy."2
You may be obsessed with germs or dirt, so you wash your hands over and over. You may be filled with doubt and feel the need to check things repeatedly. You may have frequent thoughts of violence, and fear that you will harm people close to you. You may spend long periods touching things or counting; you may be pre-occupied by order or symmetry; you may have persistent thoughts of performing sexual acts that are repugnant to you; or you may be troubled by thoughts that are against your religious beliefs.
The disturbing thoughts or images are called obsessions, and the rituals that are performed to try to prevent or get rid of them are called compulsions. There is no pleasure in carrying out the rituals you are drawn to, only temporary relief from the anxiety that grows when you don't perform them.
A lot of healthy people can identify with some of the symptoms of OCD, such as checking the stove several times before leaving the house. But for people with OCD, such activities consume at least an hour a day, are very distressing, and interfere with daily life.
Most adults with this condition recognize that what they're doing is senseless, but they can't stop it. Some people, though, particularly children with OCD, may not realize that their behavior is out of the ordinary.2
People with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) suffer intensely from recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) or rituals (compulsions), which they feel they cannot control. Rituals such as handwashing, counting, checking, or cleaning are often performed with the hope of preventing obsessive thoughts or making them go away. Performing these rituals, however, provides only temporary relief, and not performing them markedly increases anxiety. Left untreated, obsessions and the need to perform rituals can take over a person's life. OCD is often a chronic, relapsing illness3
More symptoms of Obsessive-compulsive disorder: In addition to the above information, to get a full picture of the possible symptoms of this condition and its related conditions, it may be necessary to examine symptoms that may be caused by complications of Obsessive-compulsive disorder, underlying causes of Obsessive-compulsive disorder, associated conditions for Obsessive-compulsive disorder, risk factors for Obsessive-compulsive disorder, or other related conditions.
Medical articles on symptoms: These general reference articles may be of interest:
1. excerpt from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: NWHIC
2. excerpt from Anxiety Disorders: NIMH
3. excerpt from Facts about Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: NIMH
Last revision: July 1, 2003
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