Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Symptoms
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a type of anxiety disorder that is characterized by persistent, uncontrollable thoughts that stimulate repetitive, ritualistic behaviors.
The symptoms of OCD is divided between obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are thoughts, images, or impulses that repeatedly come into a person’s mind and are experienced as intrusive and distressing. Compulsions are repetitive physical or mental actions that a person engages in to reduce anxiety.
- Fear of contamination: Recurrent thoughts about germs.
- Excessive doubts: Frequent uncertainty about whether the door was locked or appliances turned off, or qualms about whether own thoughts caused a mishap.
- Insistent organizing: A strong need to have things in certain order.
- Horrific impulses: Frequent aggressive or shocking impulses of hurting someone or saying something inappropriate.
- Washing and cleaning
- Requesting or demanding assurances
- Repeating actions
The majority of individuals who experience OCD symptoms acknowledge that their actions are excessive or unreasonable; however, some individuals may consider their fears to be rational and are said to have “poor insight”1. In those cases, individuals may become so wrapped up in their obsessions that they might overestimate the likelihood of their thoughts and images to be true2, 3.
There seems to be a large variation in the level of insight among individuals with OCD4 and only few believe their obsessions to be completely senseless, particularly when they are experiencing high levels of anxiety5.
1. Barlow, D. H. (2002). Anxiety and its disorders: The nature and treatment of anxiety and panic (2nded.). New York: Guilford Press.
2. Foa, E. B. (1979). Failure in treating obsessive-compulsives. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 17, 169-176.
3. McKenna, P. J. (1984). Disorders with overvalued ideas. British Journal of Psychiatry, 145, 579-585.
4. Foa, E. B., & Kozak, M. J. (1995). DSM-IV field trial: Obsessive-compulsive disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry, 152, 90-96.
5. Kozak, M. J., & Foa, E. B. (1994). Obsessions, overvalued ideas, and delusions in obsessive-compulsive disorder. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 32, 343-353.