27 Oct
Shiva Raman Pandey

What is OCD?

OCD or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a very distressing disorder, where a person wants to repeatedly engage in an act which he or she knows is quite illogical. Yet, they are not able to control themselves. People who are just finicky about neatness may not necessarily have OCD, and one should refrain from putting labels on people.

What is OCD?


The DSM or the diagnostic and statistical manual for mental disorders written by the American Psychiatric Association,  lists down the following criteria for the diagnosis of OCD.


  • Presence of Obsessions/Compulsions OR both. Can be one/other (but mostly BOTH are seen together). Obsessions associated with increased anxiety, distress, and guilt. Compulsions reduce these negative feelings.


  • Obsessions : Recurrent and persistent thoughts, urges, unwanted images. They are unwanted, intrusive (causes anxiety/distress), not pleasurable thoughts


  • Attempt to ignore/suppress /neutralize with other thoughts and actions by performing a compulsion


 Either of the two presents (obsession/compulsion)


(Obsessions shaped by prior experiences, socio‐cultural factors, and critical life incidents) 

  • Obsessions Should meet the following criteria –
  • Recurring, unwanted, intrusive
  • Efforts to suppress/control/neutralize
  • Recognition that the thought is a product of their own mind
  • Heightened sense of personal responsibility
  • Involves ego‐dystonic highly implausible content (e.g., if I don’t check the door 7 times, something bad will happen)



- Obsessions are commonly about themes of

-Cleaning (contamination obsessions and cleaning ‐Compulsive Disorder compulsions)

-Symmetry (symmetry obsessions and repeating/counting compulsions)

 Forbidden/taboo thoughts (aggressive, religious, sexual OCs)


Harm (fear of harming self/others)

Hoarding is another common compulsive tendency: there can be elaborate obsessions surround this behavior


Odd content: There is some weird explanation to why things must be symmetrical/clean, unlike anxiety disorders where the person is fairly realistic


 Repetitive behaviors or mental acts that the individual feels driven to perform in response to obsessions. Performed rigidly


  • Washing, ordering, repeating, checking, praying, counting
  • Behaviors/mental acts performed to reduce the anxiety/distress/prevent some dreaded event
  • Acting on the compulsions leads to reduction in anxiety
  • But no real connection between dreaded event and compulsions!
  • Children can’t articulate the perceived connection between these
  • Compulsions are observable
  • Very distressing to engage on these behaviors
  • Can even experience a panic attack when in situations where they face triggering situations
  • Discomfort/uneasiness until things are “just right!”
  • The person starts avoiding public places
  • Obsessions/Compulsions are time‐consuming ( > 1 hour) and cause distress and social‐occupational impairment .

 Therefore, as it is clear, OCD is a very distressing disorder that can go to very extreme states if untreated. In the famous case of Howard Hughes, depicted in the movie Aviator, he would wash his hands till they bled, and towards the end, lost sight of what is reality and what isn’t. If you or someone you know exhibits one or more of these symptoms, get checked for OCD today, by a qualified mental health professional. Medication and psychotherapy can help greatly to regain control over all areas of your life

This video will give more clear idea about OCD.

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