People with OCD may have symptoms of obsessions, compulsions or both. These symptoms can interfere with all aspects of life such as work, school and personal relationships.
Obsessions are repeated thoughts, urges or mental images that cause anxiety. Common symptoms include:
- Fear of germs or contamination.
- Unwanted forbidden or taboo thoughts involving sex, religion and harm.
- Aggressive thoughts towards others or self.
- Having things symmetrical or in a perfect order.
Compulsions are repetitive behaviors that a person with OCD feels the urge to do in response to an obsessive thought. Common compulsions include:
- Excessive cleaning and/or handwashing.
- Ordering and arranging things in a particular, precise way.
- Repeatedly checking on things, such as repeatedly checking to see if the door is locked or that the oven is off.
- Compulsive counting.
A person with OCD generally:
- Can't control his or her thoughts or behaviors.
- Spends at least one hour a day on these thoughts or behaviors.
- Doesn't get pleasure when performing the behaviors or rituals, but may feel brief relief from the anxiety the thoughts cause.
- Experience significant problems in their daily life due to these thoughts or behaviors.
Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are used to help reduce OCD symptoms. Examples of medication that have been proven effective in both adults and children with OCD include clomipramine, fluoxetine, sertraline.
If symptoms do not improve with these type of medication, research shows that some patients may respond well to an antipsychotic medication such as risperidone.
Research also shows that a type of CBT ( Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) called Exposure and Response Prevention (EX/RP) is effective in reducing compulsive behaviors in OCD.