Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)


Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder and is characterized by recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and/or repetitive behaviors (compulsions), which hinder daily life.

Sometimes people with obsessive-compulsive disorder are aware of the fact that their obsessive behavior is illogical and try to ignore or change it. However, these attempts increase the feeling of distress and anxiety, so these behaviors are considered mandatory for them to alleviate the feeling of distress.


The cause of obsessive-compulsive disorder isn't fully understood. Main theories about potential causative factors for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder include:

  • Biological factors: OCD may be a result of changes in your body's own natural chemistry or brain functions.
  • Genetic factors.
  • Environmental factors: May be a result of infection and inflammation.


  • OCD symptoms- annoying thoughts and compulsive behaviors- vary from person to person.
  • Most Common Annoying Thoughts:
  • Fear of contamination or dirt.
  • Fear of illness.
  • Fear of harming himself or others.
  • Fear of mistakes.
  • Fear of embarrassment or failure and involvement in inappropriate conduct in public.
  • Fear of negative thoughts or having a feeling of guilt.
  • Excessive need for organization, integration and accuracy.

Most Common Compulsive Behaviors:

  • Repeating ablution and praying.
  • Bathing more than once, or washing hands frequently.
  • Avoiding shaking hands with others or touching door knob.
  • Repeatedly checking on things such gas stoves or door locks.
  • Constantly counting – silently or loudly - during normal daily tasks.
  • Ordering and arranging personal belongings strictly and constantly.
  • Eating certain food groups according to a fixed order.
  • Stuttering during conversation, in addition to imaginations and disturbing ideas that do not disappear on their own, and may cause sleep disorders.
  • Repeating words or terms.
  • Feeling the need to do the same tasks several times (such as ablution and praying).
  • Hoarding belongings of no apparent value.

When to See a Doctor:

Most people may have obsessive thoughts and/or compulsive behaviors at some point in their lives, but that does not necessarily mean that they have OCD. What distinguishes the disease is that it hampers daily tasks and wastes a lot of time.


  • Physical exam.
  • Lab tests.
  • Psychological evaluation.
  • Diagnostic criteria for mental disorders.

Risk Factors:

  • Family history.
  • Stressful life events, or experiencing traumatic or painful events.
  • Mental health disorders.
  • The condition of mother with OCD may worsen after pregnancy.


  • Troubled social relationships.
  • Inability to attend work or school.
  • Depression and other mental disorders.
  • Suicidal thoughts and behavior.
  • Dermatitis from frequent hand-washing. ​


Treatment varies according to the severity of the condition and the extent of the impact of obsession on patient’s life. There are two main treatments for OCD, psychotherapy and medications.

Psychotherapy Treatment for OCD:

In less severe cases exposure and response prevention method is used, which involves exposing patient to obsession stimuli and preventing him from repairing or correcting them.

There is another method (cognitive/behavioral therapy), which is the most successful among children and adults alike. In severe cases, treatment may takes several months.


Medications may be used in advanced cases, often starting with antidepressants. As the condition progresses, tranquilizers are used to treat the effects of anxiety.

Patient is cautioned not to stop taking medications without consulting his doctor even if his condition improved, and be keen to take them as prescribed by his doctor

Tips for OCD Patients:

  • Express your feelings through talking to a closed person or writing.
  • Spend more time with family and friends; to strengthen the relationship with them and then feel comfortable when talking about obsessive ideas; thus reducing their intensity.
  • Control stress, which increases the severity of obsession, and practice relaxation techniques to ease stress.
  • Get adequate sleep to enable your body to cope with life difficulties.
  • Eat a healthy diet and control blood sugar levels, which control your mood and energy.
  • Regular exercise is beneficial to mental health.

Tips to Deal with OCD Patient:

  • Read more about the disease to get acquainted with what patient is going through.
  • Be patience when dealing with patient, and take his fears seriously, even if they seem illogical.
  • Help the patient to arrange his things as he wishes.
  • Reassure the patient that he is not the cause of mistakes or accidents.
  • Help the patient to resist certain compulsive actions, such as asking about the purpose of his repetitive actions, and remind him that obsession is meaningless.
  • Support the patient and ask him what he needs to help him out and not wasting much of his time.
  • Encourage the patient to stick to treatment sessions, and tell him about successful treatment experiences.


  • OCD only affects women.
  • Fact: The disease affects all age groups of both sexes.
  • OCD is all about cleanliness.
  • Fact: OCD includes a lot of things and not only hygiene.