Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Feb 12, 2022

Table of contents

30-Second Summary

  • OCD involves uncontrollable thoughts and worries along with repetitive behaviors or rituals.
  • Common symptoms include fears of contamination, harm, or disorder.
  • The exact causes are unknown, but environmental and biological factors are believed to play a role.
  • Treatment can involve both medication and therapy.

What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

Patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) have uncontrollable thoughts and worries. To manage these thoughts and worries, they engage in compulsive rituals. These compulsions cause patients to repeatedly perform the same behaviors.

The obsessive behaviors experienced by patients are extremely distressing for both themselves and those around them. Patients can only alleviate their anxiety and tension through these repetitive rituals. Therefore, performing these rituals becomes a necessity for them. If they do not perform their rituals, they firmly believe that the feared situation will occur. There is often no meaningful connection between their obsessions and worries.

When patients try to ignore or suppress these rituals, their thoughts and worries increase significantly. As their anxiety increases, patients become more compelled to perform their rituals, which hinders their daily lives and reduces their quality of life.

Symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

The most characteristic symptoms of OCD are compulsions and obsessions. In some cases, only obsessions may be present. Since compulsions and obsessions are highly visible in OCD patients, diagnosing the disorder is relatively easy.

The primary ritual in OCD patients is to manage their deep anxieties and fears. Through these rituals, they aim to overcome their worries or thoughts.

OCD is a chronic disorder characterized by repetitive thoughts, urges, anxieties, and worries. Patients often engage in behaviors to avoid these thoughts, but this can worsen their condition.

Symptoms can worsen when patients are under stress. OCD typically persists throughout life, with mild to moderate symptoms. Symptoms of OCD can include:

  • Repeatedly saying a prayer, word, or song,
  • Counting in specific patterns,
  • Rechecking things that are already known to be closed,
  • Counting objects,
  • Taking frequent showers,
  • Fear of germs,
  • Excessive cleanliness,
  • Washing hands constantly,
  • Avoiding shaking hands,
  • Keeping objects in a specific order,
  • Avoiding contact with objects touched by others,
  • Thoughts of causing harm,
  • Worries about loved ones being harmed,
  • Being orderly and symmetrical,
  • Fear of contamination,

Causes of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

The exact causes of OCD are not known. However, studies suggest that environmental and biological factors play a role in OCD.

Environmental Factors

Some OCD patients are influenced by environmental stress factors. Significant stressful events or changes in patients' lives can trigger OCD. Additionally, ongoing stress and significant changes can worsen OCD. Environmental factors that can cause or worsen OCD include:

  • Relationship anxieties,
  • Changes or issues at work or school,
  • Death or separation of a loved one,
  • Illness,
  • Abuse,
  • Changes in living conditions,

Biological Factors

Certain areas of the brain in OCD patients exhibit overactivity, which becomes more pronounced during episodes. This change is believed to be due to neurotransmitter imbalances.

Diagnosis of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

There are no specific tests or imaging systems used to diagnose OCD. Therefore, diagnosis is based on the patient's history and symptoms. Specialists assess patients' thought patterns, behaviors, and emotions during examinations.

Diagnosing OCD can be challenging in some cases, especially when patients have similar symptoms to anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, or depression. Additionally, patients may have comorbid mental health conditions, complicating diagnosis.

Treatment Methods for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Without treatment, it is difficult for patients with OCD to improve on their own, and symptoms may worsen. Therefore, treatment is essential. Effective treatment or symptom control often requires a combination of medication and therapy.

Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy aims to change the thoughts and behaviors of OCD patients. The goal is to help patients face their anxieties without engaging in compulsive behaviors.


Medications can be used to increase serotonin levels in the brains of OCD patients.

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