Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a challenging psychiatric disorder that impacts about 2.2 million people. In half of those cases, the disease is classified as “severe.” OCD typically involves both irrational obsessions, which can come in the form of images, urges, impulses, or thoughts, and compulsive behaviors or rituals, such as checking, counting, ordering, or seeking reassurance. Some individuals, however, have only obsessions or compulsions, but not both. A person with OCD can have obsessive thoughts about anything at all, but a common one is an obsession about germs and health, and repeating rituals such as hand-washing to relieve this anxiety. In order to be diagnosed with OCD, these obsessions and/or compulsive behaviors must cause significant distress, cause impairment, or take up an inordinate amount of the person’s time. OCD usually appears along with depression and eating disorders.
Therapy, particularly cognitive behavioral therapy, is the most effective form of treatment for OCD. Some individuals may also benefit from medication in addition to therapy. With proper treatment, some individuals are able to overcome OCD. However, since OCD tends to be a lifelong disorder, a more common scenario for OCD sufferers is that they learn how to manage their symptoms so that they can function relatively normally in their day-to-day life.