OCD is a medical disorder that causes recurring thoughts, along with compulsive behaviors that an individual feels the need to repeat. There are two types of OCD symptoms: obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions refer to repeated thoughts or urges that cause anxiety, and they may include a fear of germs, an excessive focus on religion or morality, and an ongoing need to maintain order and symmetry in any way possible. Compulsions are sometimes viewed as habits and rituals, but there are differences. A habit or ritual is a behavior or tendency that an individual develops over time and practices regularly by choice. A compulsion refers to a repeated behavior that an individual performs in response to an obsessive thought. Compulsions persist because they provide a feeling of relief from obsessive thoughts, which creates positive a feedback loop. Compulsions may include excessively cleaning or washing the hands, constantly double-checking light switches and locks.

Obsessions and compulsions can sometimes be problematic, particularly if they go untreated for an extended period of time. Fortunately, with a proactive approach to OCD diagnosis and treatment, an individual can identify these symptoms and other OCD risk factors before they disrupt his or her daily life.


People who can identify OCD risk factors can take steps to quickly and safely address their OCD symptoms. An individual may be prone to OCD if he or she has a parent or sibling dealing with OCD symptoms.  In addition, individuals who were physically or sexually abused or experienced other trauma are susceptible to OCD. Anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders and substance abuse have also been linked to OCD.

For those who identify OCD risk factors in themselves and others, proper diagnosis is essential. To receive an OCD diagnosis, an individual must meet with a psychiatric professional to discuss his or her OCD symptoms. At that time, a patient may receive a physical exam, lab tests, and a psychological evaluation. If a patient is diagnosed with OCD, he or she will receive a custom treatment plan designed to help manage OCD symptoms.


The ideal OCD treatment plan will vary based on the severity and type of symptoms, and in certain cases a combination of therapies may be required.  A patient may need a prescribed medication or a combination of different types of psychotherapy and medication to effectively treat OCD symptoms.