Understanding Obssesive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Mar 26, 2019
Mental Health

Welcome to the comprehensive guide on Obssesive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), brought to you by Susan H Dowell, LCSW, BCD - a leading expert in the field of mental health. In this article, we explore the various aspects of OCD, including its symptoms, causes, and available treatment options. Gain a better understanding of OCD and find valuable information that can help you on your journey to overcoming this condition.

What is Obssesive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?

Obssesive-Compulsive Disorder, commonly known as OCD, is a mental health disorder characterized by unwanted and recurring thoughts (obsessions) that lead to repetitive behaviors (compulsions). OCD affects individuals of all ages, genders, and backgrounds, and can significantly impact their daily lives.

The Symptoms of OCD

Individuals with OCD may experience a wide range of symptoms, but most often, these symptoms fall into two categories: obsessions and compulsions.


Obsessions are intrusive and unwanted thoughts, images, or urges that cause distress and anxiety in individuals with OCD. These obsessions typically center around themes such as cleanliness, orderliness, fear of harm, symmetry, or taboo thoughts.

Some common obsessions include:

  • Fear of contamination or germs
  • Excessive doubts and the need for reassurance
  • Unwanted aggressive or violent thoughts
  • Extreme concern with order and symmetry
  • Unwanted sexual or religious thoughts


Compulsions are repetitive behaviors or mental acts that individuals with OCD feel driven to perform in response to their obsessions. These compulsions are often carried out to reduce anxiety or prevent feared situations, but they provide only temporary relief.

Some common compulsions include:

  • Excessive handwashing or cleaning
  • Repeated checking of locks, appliances, or switches
  • Counting or tapping in specific patterns
  • Arranging or organizing objects symmetrically
  • Engaging in excessive reassurance-seeking behaviors

Causes and Risk Factors

The exact cause of OCD is not yet fully understood, but research suggests that a combination of genetic, environmental, and neurobiological factors contribute to its development. Common risk factors for OCD include:

  • Family history of OCD or other anxiety disorders
  • Imbalance in brain chemicals
  • High levels of stress
  • History of trauma or abuse

Treatment Options for OCD

OCD is a treatable condition, and there are various effective treatment options available. Seeking professional help from mental health practitioners experienced in OCD treatment is crucial in managing and overcoming this disorder.


Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the most widely recognized and evidence-based treatment for OCD. Through CBT, individuals learn to identify, challenge, and modify their obsessive thoughts and accompanying compulsive behaviors. Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), a specific form of CBT, exposes individuals to their fears and prevents the use of compulsions, leading to a reduction in anxiety over time.


In some cases, medication may be prescribed to help manage the symptoms of OCD. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are often used and have shown to be effective in reducing obsessions and compulsions. It is important to consult with a psychiatrist to determine the appropriate medication and dosage for your specific needs.

Combination Therapy

Combining psychotherapy and medication has been found to be beneficial for some individuals with OCD, especially in more severe cases or when symptoms significantly impact daily functioning. Collaborating with healthcare professionals can help devise a tailored treatment plan that suits individual requirements.


In conclusion, Obssesive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a complex mental health disorder that affects the lives of many individuals. Understanding its symptoms, causes, and available treatment options is essential in managing and overcoming this condition. Seek the help of mental health professionals, such as Susan H Dowell, LCSW, BCD, who specialize in OCD treatment, to embark on a path towards recovery. Remember, with appropriate care and support, individuals with OCD can lead fulfilling lives and find relief from the challenges imposed by this disorder.

Justin Scott
Informative and helpful! 🙌🏼
Nov 8, 2023