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Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Combating Compulsions

Combating Compulsions: Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) affects up to one in 100 people in the United States. People who suffer from this anxiety disorder have repetitive thoughts and ideas that lead to them feeling the need to carry out repeated tasks or compulsions. These compulsions, or rituals, must be completed to give the person a sense of relief.

Most people with OCD show symptoms of the condition by the age of 30. Children and teens can also suffer from OCD; The Nemours Foundation notes that approximately one million children and teens in the United States have been diagnosed with OCD. People with OCD often recognize that their behaviors and compulsions are excessive, but they are unable to stop them.

Compulsions can vary greatly in type and degree; some of the most commonly cited compulsions are the need to repeatedly wash one’s hands to get rid of germs; rituals that involve obsessive counting or touching; or, the need to arrange things in an extremely particular way.

Additionally, a recent study by researchers at the University of Miami found that many new mothers experience postpartum OCD, a condition that stems from a mother’s worry or fear about her ability to adequately care for her newborn. Women with postpartum OCD may, for example, compulsively wash their babies (which can lead to sores), or refuse to hold their infants for fear of dropping them.

OCD can be diagnosed after meeting with a medical professional and describing your symptoms. A doctor will first rule out other factors that may lead to the obsessive behavior, such as other mental disorders.

The condition is usually treated with medication, therapy, or a combination of the two. Cognitive behavioral therapy is sometimes used to treat OCD; a patient is exposed to situations that trigger the condition and is taught to resist the compulsive urges.



Goodwin, J. (2011, September 18). When protecting baby becomes an obsession. HealthDay. Retrieved from

National Center for Biotechnology Information, National Institutes of Health. (2010, February 11). Obsessive-compulsive disorder. Retrieved from

National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health. (2011). Obsessive-compulsive disorder, OCD. Retrieved from

The Nemours Foundation. (n.d.). Obsessive-compulsive disorder. Retrieved from


By Nicole Stewart

Reviewed by Karen Schmidt, RN