Dr. Nikhil Kanase

Obsessive-compulsive Disorder: Know More

Obsessive-compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD is a common, long-lasting mental disorder in which patients have unwanted and repeated thoughts, ideas, feelings, sensations (obsessions), and behaviors that provoke them to do something over and over (compulsions).

Generally, the person carries out the behaviors to eliminate the obsessive thoughts. But this only provides short-term relief. Not doing obsessive rituals can cause great anxiety and distress.


People with OCD may show the symptoms of obsessions, compulsions, or even both. The symptoms can interfere with the daily aspects of life (work, school, and personal relationships).

Obsessions are the repeated thoughts, urges, or mental images that cause anxiety. Common symptoms include:

  • Fear of germs 
  • Unwanted forbidden thoughts about sex, religion, or harm
  • Aggressive thoughts towards self or others
  • Having things in a perfect order

Compulsions, the urge to do in response to an obsessive thought, include:

  • Excessive handwashing and cleaning
  • Arranging and ordering things in a precise way
  • Repeatedly checking things, like repeatedly checking to see if the door is locked or that the oven is off
  • Compulsive counting

Risk Factors:

The cause of OCD is unknown. The risk factors include:

  • Genetics
  • Brain structure and functioning
  • Environment (Childhoods trauma)


Exams and Tests

  • The diagnosis is confirmed based on an interview with the person and family members. 
  • A physical exam can rule out physical causes. A mental health assessment can rule out other mental disorders.
  • Questionnaires can help diagnose OCD and track the progress of treatment.


  • OCD is treated using a combination of medicine and behavioral therapy.
  • Medicines used include antidepressants, antipsychotics, and mood stabilizers.
  • Clomipramine is effective for many with OCD. 
  • Talk therapy (cognitive behavioral therapy; CBT) is effective for this disorder. During treatment, the person is often exposed to a particular situation which triggers the obsessive thoughts and gradually learns to tolerate the anxiety and resist the urge to do the compulsion. Therapy can also reduce stress and anxiety and resolve inner conflicts.