What is OCD? Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Explained

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, commonly referred to as OCD, is an anxiety disorder in which people have recurring, unwanted thoughts, ideas or sensations. These obsessions make them feel driven to do something repetitively. Compulsions can be repetitive behaviors such as hand washing, checking on things, or cleaning and can significantly interfere with a person’s daily activities and social interactions.

OCD affects men, women and children, and can develop at any age. Some people develop obsessive-compulsive disorder early in life, often around puberty. OCD typically develops during early adulthood, and affects mental health in four stages:


Unwanted, intrusive and often distressing thoughts, images or urges repeatedly enter the mind.


These obsessions provokes feelings of intense anxiety or distress.


Repetitive behaviours or mental acts are performed as a result of the anxiety associated with obsessions.

Temporary relief

Compulsive behaviours temporarily relieve the anxiety, but the obsession and anxiety soon returns, causing the cycle to begin again.



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