Obsessive-compulsive disorder is basically a mental disorder characterized by unreasonable thoughts and fears (obsessions) that lead to compulsive behaviors. It is a common, chronic and long-lasting disorder.
It’s a disorder that’s been used in sentences and thrown around making it trivialized in society.

It’s actually a form of anxiety disorder, as these obsessions cause anxiety that’s only relieved by carrying out the compulsion.
OCD often centers on themes such as a fear of germs or the need to arrange objects in a specific manner (which we all think are the major pointers for the disorder due to conditioning by books read or movies) but is not limited to those.

Symptoms usually begin gradually and vary throughout life; with earliest symptoms beginning from as early as 4years old and sometimes beginning later in life (latest noted 35yrs)

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.
Symptoms are differentiated into Obsessive and compulsive symptoms.


Obsessions are repeated thoughts, urges, or mental images that cause anxiety.

Common presentations include:

  • Fear of germs or contamination (frequent cleaning and hand washing)
  • Unwanted forbidden or taboo thoughts involving sex, religion, and harm (e.g need to pray before and after sexual relations)
  • 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
  • Not all rituals or habits are compulsions as everyone double checks things sometimes.

For people who develop OCD at a later stage of life, there’s usually a trigger (usually a traumatic event)
Please note that a person with OCD generally:

  • Can’t control his or her thoughts or behaviors, even when those thoughts or behaviors are recognized as excessive
  • They spend at least 1 hour a day on these thoughts or behaviors
  • They get no 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

So as much as TV, books and society glamorize this illness; it’s a real problem to the sufferers and they get absolutely no pleasure from it.
Some individuals with OCD also have a tic disorder (which can be motor-involve movement or vocal)

A tic is a compulsive, repetitive sound or movement that’s often difficult to control. Motor tics are sudden, brief, repetitive movements, such as eye blinking and other eye movements, facial grimacing, shoulder shrugging, and head or shoulder jerking.

Common vocal tics include repetitive throat-clearing, sniffing, or grunting sounds.

Symptoms may come and go, ease over time, or worsen.

People with OCD may try to help themselves by avoiding situations that trigger their obsessions, or they may use alcohol or drugs to calm themselves.

Although most adults with OCD recognize that what they are doing doesn’t make sense, some adults and most children may not realize that their behavior is out of the ordinary.

Parents or teachers typically recognize OCD symptoms in children.
OCD is a common disorder that affects adults, adolescents, and children all over the world.

Most people are diagnosed about age 19, typically with an earlier age of onset in boys than in girls, but onset after age 35 does happen.

The causes of OCD are unknown, but risk factors include:

1. Genetics:
Twin and family studies have shown that people with first-degree relatives (such as a parent, sibling, or child) who have OCD are at a higher risk for developing OCD themselves. The risk is higher if the first-degree relative developed OCD as a child or teenager.

2. Brain structure:
Imaging studies have shown differences in some structures of the brain in patients with OCD. There appears to be a connection between the OCD symptoms and abnormalities in certain areas of the brain, but that connection is still being studied as it unclear

3. Environmental factors:
People who have experienced abuse (physical or sexual) in childhood or other trauma are at an increased risk for developing OCD.


Treatment for OCD like every mental illness is two-fold involving Therapy and Medication.

OCD is typically treated with medication, psychotherapy or a combination of the two.

Although most patients with OCD respond to treatment, some patients continue to experience symptoms.

Sometimes people with OCD also have other mental disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and body dysmorphic disorder (a disorder in which someone mistakenly believes that a part of their body is abnormal).

It is important to consider these other disorders when making decisions about treatment.

Compiled by

Sogbesan Olawale (Waleunique)


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