Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in Adults

ICD-10 code: F42.8

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is part of a cluster of diagnoses called the obsessive-compulsive and related disorders.  Obsessive-compulsive and related disorders are a group of psychiatric conditions that include:

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Body dysmorphic disorder
  • Hoarding disorder
  • Trichotillomania
  • Excoriation (skin picking) disorder

These disorders are characterized by the occurrence of repetitive behaviors, often called compulsions.  Individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder might engage in compulsive behaviors such as excessive washing, checking, arranging, or counting.  Individuals with body dysmorphic disorder might engage in frequent checking of their appearance in the mirror, or excessive grooming-related behaviors.  Individuals with hoarding disorder may engage in excessive acquiring of objects, combined with a strong need to save items.  Individuals with trichotillomania engage in excessive hair pulling, and individuals with excoriation disorder engage in excessive skin picking.

In some cases, the obsessive-compulsive and related disorders are also characterized by intrusive, unwanted, or distressing thoughts, called obsessions, which come to mind again and again.  People with obsessive-compulsive disorder might have obsessive thoughts about dirt or germs, thoughts of harming others, fears of making mistakes, or distress about things being out of order.  People with body dysmorphic disorder have repetitive, negative thoughts about their own appearance.  However, people with certain other obsessive-compulsive and related disorders (such as trichotillomania or excoriation disorder) often do not experience obsessive thoughts.

What is obsessive compulsive disorder?

OCD is a psychiatric disorder that affects approximately 1-2% of adults.  OCD is characterized by two main symptoms:

  • Obsessions, which are unwanted or intrusive thoughts, ideas, fears, or mental images that the person finds distressing.

Compulsions, which are repetitive behaviors that the person does in response to obsessions or fears.

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Understanding Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

OCD severity can range from mild to debilitating.  In severe cases, OCD can lead to inability to work, go to school, or have enjoyable relationships.  Many people with OCD also have other psychiatric conditions, most commonly depression and anxiety disorders.

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How is obsessive compulsive disorder treated?

OCD is treatable.  Published treatment guidelines for OCD include those from the American Psychiatric Association, the Society of Clinical Psychology, and the National Institute for Clinical Excellence.

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