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Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Signs And Symptoms

Updated on June 6, 2014

What Is OCD?

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), is obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors so unpleasant that they complicate your daily life. It's rational on occasion to go back and verify that the stove is turned off or your door is locked. But when these compulsions start dictating your life it becomes an obsession.

If you have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder you may feel ostracized, not to mention helpless and ashamed. You are not alone. In the United States, one in 50 adults have OCD, and twice that many have had it at some point in their lives.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by uncontrollable thoughts with recurrent ritualized behaviors you feel compelled to act out almost continuously. People with OCD recognize their obsessive compulsive behaviors as being irrational. The problem is they cannot resist doing them. That is why they are called compulsions.

Obsessions are distressful feelings of fear, disgust, and the need to manage things.  Even things you have no control over. Compulsions are not gratifying, the rituals are preformed to gain relief from the recurrent obsessions.

Symptoms Of OCD:

  • Checking doors/windows repeatedly
  • Washing your hands excessively
  • Thoughts you might hurt someone
  • Picking at your skin or other areas- This goes by the name trichotillmonia
  • Impulse to shout in inappropriate places- Mild tics
  • Intrusive images that are disturbing
  • Excessive worrying
  • Hoarding
  • Revulsion of body waste
  • Superstitious fears
  • The need for symmetry and order
  • Mental rituals to distract obsessive thinking

It is not uncommon for people with OCD to share difficulty with daily activities, such as tardiness, perfectionism, procrastination, indecision, discouragement and family upsets.

Routinely, compulsions are performed in an attempt to make obsessions go away. For example, if you are afraid of contamination, you might develop elaborate cleaning rituals. Unfortunately though, the relief never lasts. Or you may may have a counting ritual to stop a washing compulsion.

OCD Is Treatable

You don't have to hide in a bubble
You don't have to hide in a bubble

There Is Hope

Most people with obsessive-compulsive disorder usually fit into following categories:

Washers are afraid of contamination. They usually have cleaning or hand-washing compulsions. They will wash their hands up to 50 times a day.

Checkers. Repeatedly check things they associate with harm or danger. Such as repeatedly checking to make sure a door is locked.

Doubters and sinners. Are afraid that if everything is not just right or done perfectly something bad is going to happen and they will be punished.

Counters and arrangers. Are obsessed with order and symmetry. They may have superstitions about certain numbers, colors, or arrangements. Everything needs to be in particular order.

Hoarders cannot throw anything away without fearing something bad will happen.They compulsively hoard things they have no use for. Even when they know it is a piece of trash, it has a use for them.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder can cause enormous distress, it can take up a lot of time, and interfere with your daily life, job, or relationships. It consumes hours and hours out of the day.

Many doctors use a tool called Structured Clinical Interview for DSM Disorders to diagnose obsessive compulsive disorder. Other ways to diagnose OCD is an examination of current symptoms, family history, symptoms take up more than 1 hour a day or interfere with work, home and relationships. About 80% of people who suffer from OCD usually experience depression in some capacity or another.

Treatment usually includes behavioral therapy and medication. The therapy goal is to identify the obsessions and compulsions. Then the therapist starts Exposure ritual/response prevention (ERP) . Which includes being exposed to objects or situations that trigger the fear and anxiety, but averts you from engaging in the compulsive behavior.

Medications prescribed might include antidepressants. About 70% of people with OCD respond remarkably well to antidepressant medication, and about 40% experience a partial reduction of their OCD symptoms.

Some of the medications used to treat OCD are Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Luvox and Anafranil. As with any medication, it commonly takes 8-12 weeks to feel the affect. Your doctor may increase the dosage over that time period to make sure you are getting the correct dosage.

Although there is no cure for obsessive-compulsive disorder, blending the two therapies, it is feasible to have alleviation of OCD symptoms and live a normal life.


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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      weblog. Loads of gratitude sharing. facegeacdcag

    • crazybeanrider profile imageAUTHOR

      Boo McCourt 

      6 years ago from Washington MI

      Thank you for your comment Clayton. I can't tell you how many things I've thrown away because they were used, even if only once. I have gotten better with that aspect of things. I hope you are doing better, and staying well.

    • crazybeanrider profile imageAUTHOR

      Boo McCourt 

      6 years ago from Washington MI

      Thank you fpherj48,

      Yes it does take those people around us to adapt to what is out of the ordinary to them. Therapy has been the driving force for me. I know I kind of make people uncomfortable with some of my compulsions. But with constant awareness and therapy I can deal fairly well without constant chaos. It is good to hear something positive come out of having OCD. It sounds like your mom learned to deal with her OCD in a way that worked for her.

      I think with professional help, it gives the entire family a bit of insight, and can help with the fear they carry because of a loved ones OCD. I sincerely appreciate your comments and sharing your story.

    • crazybeanrider profile imageAUTHOR

      Boo McCourt 

      6 years ago from Washington MI

      Thank you Tammy. I hope your children are doing well. It is a tough diagnosis.

    • Clayton Fernandes profile image


      6 years ago from Dubai, United Arab Emirates

      After realising and keeping an open mind, with information like this its always helpful to remember. Back then i would wash EVERYTHING, including erasers, playing cards & coins lol.

    • fpherj48 profile image


      6 years ago from Carson City

      carzybeanrider....Excellent hub. You've done a superb job with explaining a complex mental disorder. The hard core fact of reality is that far more people are effected with bouts of OCD and/or long term suffering, than we can know. Most go undiagnosed due to failure to recognize the symptoms, as well as those who may be aware, but remain in denial.

      My sister and I were raised by a wonderful mother who had OCD for most of her adult life....."hoarding" and constant stringent organization were the most apparent of her OCD habits. She was well aware and not at all reluctant to admit these things. However, she truly justified her behavior and made no apologies. In her opinion (mind) she was doing what she needed to and should have.

      No harm nor serious difficulties ever developed in our home life due to her OCD......once we became old enough to understand, we simply accepted her ways and lived happily in spite of this.

      I will say that both my sister and I chose careers as a result of our experiences. Perhaps there's a positive result here!

      In cases of extreme and harmful OCD, it is most urgent for the individual to seek professional medical help. Not all families are able to deal with the stress and concern that may exist.

      Once again, this is a stellar hub. Kudos to you....UP+++

    • tammyswallow profile image


      6 years ago from North Carolina

      This is excellent information. I have two children with OCD and they like things a certain way. This helps! Great hub!

    • crazybeanrider profile imageAUTHOR

      Boo McCourt 

      7 years ago from Washington MI

      Thank you for commenting misslong. I never thought I really had a problem until it just consumed me. But with therapy and working on it everyday it becomes less noticeable on some days. It really does take a lot of work to combat ocd.

    • misslong123 profile image

      Michele Kelsey 

      7 years ago from Edmond, Oklahoma

      Excellent job in covering this topic that so many people struggle with. I think I have a tad bit of it, but not enough for it to be a problem. Really, I just like to be overly organized. Sometimes I drive my family and myself mad over it, but usually it isn't that much of a problem. I have learned through the years to be more laid back. Thanks for sharing! Michele

    • crazybeanrider profile imageAUTHOR

      Boo McCourt 

      7 years ago from Washington MI

      Having these conditions does NOT make you a brat. Believe me I have been called a brat on many occasions.It is their lack of understanding, not you. I am not sure exactly if spanking would be a cause OCD and ADHD. I know my OCD started at an early age, around 5. I can't think of any reason that stands out. I do know that OCD and ADHD are real neuropsychological disorders that often require treatment, and that usually includes medication. Spanking could very well cause any number of problems. I am sure there is an argument out there that wmay support that. But I have read varying accounts on whether spanking causes behaviorl problems. It is believed that genes play a larger role in the causes of OCD and ADHD. You stay brave and don't let people push you into believing you are a spoiled brat. You are not.

    • profile image

      a good guy 

      7 years ago

      I have obsessive compulsive disorder, as well as add and adhd. Why do people associate these with being a spoilled brat?

      Are we brats or do they live in denial about everything?

      I developed these stupid issues after my second spanking. I don't know if that has anything to do with it. Could it have something to do with it, or is it just me?

    • crazybeanrider profile imageAUTHOR

      Boo McCourt 

      8 years ago from Washington MI

      Thank you, i hope it helps as well.

    • nextyear profile image


      8 years ago

      Great Article. I love all the details. Hope it helps other people.

    • crazybeanrider profile imageAUTHOR

      Boo McCourt 

      9 years ago from Washington MI

      Thank you very much applecsmith. Yes I tend to be anti hoarding as well. My therapist even tidied up her office because i was eying it up. I work hard to keep symptoms at bay.

    • applecsmith profile image

      Carrie Smith 

      9 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      I developed OCD when my mom passed away when I was 15 years old. For the past 10 years or so I have worked on it and been careful not to fall back into the pattern. I didn't have any problem with hoarding, I had ANTI-HOARDING. So much that I would throw clutter and trash out of other people's house (mostly family).

      Thank you for sharing this hub with everyone else, and it's nice to know I'm not alone with my obsessions. Voted up and interesting.

    • crazybeanrider profile imageAUTHOR

      Boo McCourt 

      10 years ago from Washington MI

      No lontach you're not a weirdo, OCD is a real anxiety disorder. I live with it everyday. I hate even numbers, I check things as well, rearrange things, worry to the point of panic attacks. I use the reversal trick myself. I will count or tap to break my thought process. Not a weirdo, just OCD!

    • Iontach profile image


      10 years ago

      OCD sucks....REALLY sucks. I developed it about 2 years ago while going through a really bad rough patch with an ex. It seems to flare up when Im tired or stressed or when I begin to worry about something.

      The only way I can stop it is to reverse the obsession, for example I say to myself that if i do a certain compulsive action, something bad will happen, instead of something good happening. lol.

      I have a major problem with checking things, washing my hands, hoarding everything!, perfectionism, i also hate the numbers 5,7, 9, 11, and 13.

      I can get rid of specific obsessions, but when i do, coincidentally i begin a totally new one the same day without realising it. Lol i'm such a weirdo.

    • crazybeanrider profile imageAUTHOR

      Boo McCourt 

      10 years ago from Washington MI

      Thank you oceansnsunsets, it is a tough disorder sometimes. I am glad you stopped by to read and comment :)

    • oceansnsunsets profile image


      10 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Great hub, thank you for sharing it! Very informative.

    • crazybeanrider profile imageAUTHOR

      Boo McCourt 

      10 years ago from Washington MI

      Hi Amanda- I think exercise is important.. When my ocd gets bad I try to exercise, like a bike ride, swimming or something to distract me.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      my son has ocd we think and has been to the doctor but not told him he takesvsteroids body building help

    • crazybeanrider profile imageAUTHOR

      Boo McCourt 

      11 years ago from Washington MI

      Thank you habee for the great comment. I do check doors and windows, but that is one of my lesser compulsions. I do have the cleaning thing down to a ridiculous few hours a day. I practice nipping that one with counting, or repeating words. It is a time consuming ritual. Thank you for reading, I appreciate it.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 

      11 years ago from Georgia

      I am a CHECKER! I check the stove, the oven, the door locks SEVERAL times before going to bed - even when I know I've already checked them. Wish my OCD was about house cleaning. lol. Good hub!

    • crazybeanrider profile imageAUTHOR

      Boo McCourt 

      11 years ago from Washington MI

      Thank you, thank you very much! OCD has a huge mass of different symptoms, you'd think being OCD I would be ultra organized with all my online stuff. NOT! At home is another story.

      I am so glad to have you as a friend. Your support is so generous, and forthcoming. And your sense of humor just rocks! I'll be watching out for your stuff as well. YA! :)

    • kimshannon profile image


      11 years ago from North Providence RI

      Great article Boo! I had NOOOOO idea that some of the symptoms you listed related to OCD... once again, you have educated me! :) Keep up the great work - I ALWAYS look forward to reading your stuff! Kim


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