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Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a type of anxiety disorder. People with OCD have repeated, unwanted thoughts and behaviors they cannot control. These thoughts are called obsessions. An example of an obsession would be a fear of germs. To try to make obsessive thoughts go away, people with OCD perform repeated actions, such as hand washing, counting, checking, or cleaning. These repeated actions are called compulsions. Compulsions provide only temporary relief from obsessive thoughts. And not doing these actions causes anxiety. Left untreated, these thoughts and behaviors can take over a person's life. This can make it hard, if not impossible, for people with OCD to go to work or school, or have normal relationships with friends and families. Treatment, such as medicine and therapy, can help.

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Content last updated: September 22, 2009.

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