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Obsessive Compulsive
Disorder (OCD)

What is OCD?


OCD is characterized by intrusive and unwanted thoughts, urges, images, or sensations that trigger intense discomfort or anxiety. Compulsions are repetitive and ritualized behaviors that are completed in an effort to avoid or decrease the discomfort caused by these obsessions. OCD causes significant distress, can consume hours of a person’s day, and impacts daily functioning. [1]


Current Numbers on OCD? 


At what age does OCD start? [1]


  • OCD can start at any time from preschool to adulthood. Although OCD may occur at earlier ages, there are generally two age ranges when OCD first appears:

  • Between ages 8 and 12

  • Between the late teens and early adulthood


How common is OCD? [1]


  • OCD affects 2-3% of people in the United States.

  • OCD equally affects men, women, and children of all races, ethnicities, and backgrounds.


How does OCD develop? [2]


The exact causes of OCD are still not understood yet research shows that biology and genetics may play a role. 


  • Biology - OCD may be a result of changes in your body's own natural chemistry or brain functions.

  • Genetics - OCD may have a genetic component, but specific genes have yet to be identified.




What are obsessions? 


  • Obsessions are intrusive and unwanted thoughts, images, urges, and sensations that create a significant amount of anxiety or distress. 

Common obsessions:

  • Fears of perceived contamination from contact with people, substances, or things things such as illness/disease, dirt, germs, bodily fluids, chemicals, or environmental contaminates

  • Fear of causing harm to yourself or others or having violent images in your mind

  • Perfectionism concerns about things being just right or doing things just right, fear of losing or forgetting things, or fears of making mistakes 

  • Superstitions concerns with things being considered lucky or unlucky

  • Fears of committing immoral or sacrilegious actions

  • Excessive concerns with one’s identity such as sexual orientation or gender

  • Unwanted thoughts or images related to sex such as fears of acting on sexual impulses, being sexually aggressive towards others, or sexually harming children or others 




What are compulsions? 


  • Compulsions are behaviors one engages in to neutralize or mitigate fear, discomfort, or anxiety from obsessions. Compulsions can become incredibly time-consuming and take over someone’s life. Compulsions can be physical actions that are visible to others, can be mental actions we do in our mind, or might take the form of avoidance. 

Common compulsions:


  • Repeatedly washing hands, showering, grooming or cleaning 

  • Excessive checking that you did or did not do things, checking if bad things happened, or checking for mistakes

  • Seeking reassurance from others, telling or confessing things to others

  • Repeating routine activities a certain number of times or until it feels right; re-reading or re-writing

  • Ordering or arranging objects unnecessarily

  • Reviewed past conversations, memories, or events in your mind

  • Praying, counting, or doing and undoing things in your mind




How long does it take most people to get OCD treatment?


  • Studies find that it takes an average of 7 to 10 years from the time OCD begins for people to obtain appropriate treatment.


Is OCD treatable?


  • You bet it is. If you think you have OCD, have been diagnosed with OCD, or you notice symptoms in someone you love, know that with education and treatment, OCD is highly treatable

  • People who receive appropriate treatment can experience improved quality of life and daily functioning. 

How is OCD treated? 


The most effective treatments for OCD are Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and/or medication. More specifically, the most effective treatments are a type of CBT called Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), which has the strongest evidence supporting its use in the treatment of OCD, and/or a class of medications called serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SRIs. About 70% of people will benefit from ERP and/or medication for their OCD. To learn more about treatments for OCD visit the International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) HERE. [1]


Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a form of CBT that has a strong research base and has been found to be an effective treatment for OCD. ACT is an acceptance and mindfulness-based behavioral intervention. Treatment goals within ACT are to have a healthy relationship with your internal experiences and increase behavioral patterns that align with your values. Learn more about ACT for OCD HERE

Related Obsessive Compulsive Disorders


  • Body Dysmorphic Disorder

  • Hoarding

  • Trichotillomania (hair pulling disorder)

  • Excoriation (skin picking) Disorder


You are not alone in this journey of navigating life with OCD. With awareness, education, willingness, and a therapist to help you on the path, you are well on your way to reclaiming your life. So congratulations! I'm proud of you. Let me help you take the next step on your journey. Contact me HERE to get started!




[1] American Psychiatric Association. (2022, October). What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?. Retrieved from


[2] Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). (n.d.). Retrieved from


[3] How is OCD Treated. (2023). Retrieved from

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