Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an illness that causes people to have distressing, intrusive, irrational thoughts, images or impulses (i.e., obsessions) and to perform repetitive behavioral or mental acts (i.e., compulsions) aimed at reducing distress or preventing some dreaded situation. Click here to see the DSM-IV Criteria for OCD.
Although everyone with OCD has obsessions and/or compulsions, the content varies from person to person. Typical obsessions include repetitive fears of causing harm or being harmed, fears of contamination and illness, fears of making mistakes, intrusive distressing sexual or religious imagery, or fears of losing things. Typical compulsions include repetitive washing and cleaning, excessive checking, excessive ordering and arranging, or extreme hoarding and saving. Some people with OCD have only one type of obsession or compulsion; others have several types of obsessions and compulsions.
OCD occurs in 1-3 percent of the population with its onset typically occurring in adolescence or young adulthood (although it can start in childhood). The course is often chronic.
When obsessions and compulsions cause marked distress, are time consuming (for example, take more than one hour a day), or interfere with functioning, treatment is recommended. Two treatments significantly reduce the symptoms of OCD: cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) using exposure and ritual prevention and pharmacotherapy with serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs) clomipramine (Anafranil), fluoxetine (Prozac), fluvoxamine (Luvox), paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft), citalopram (Celexa), and escitalopram (Lexapro).
The first-line treatments for OCD are medication with serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs), therapy with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), or their combination. Our center offers both types of treatment. We encourage patients to select the treatment that they feel most comfortable with.