Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a specific form of anxiety characterized by repetitive, unwanted intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and irrational, excessive urges to do certain actions (compulsions). For some people, the compulsive behavior comes from trying to reduce anxiety or obsessions. Genetics tend to play an important role; if you, your parent or a sibling have OCD, there is almost a 25% chance that another family member will have it.

OCD can look different for different people; for some, it involves cleaning self and spaces compulsively; for others, the OCD might present in the form of counting, tapping, or something numeric, or a myriad of other forms.

Each person is unique, and should explore the options and select for themselves the most effective coping mechanisms for dealing with OCD. That being said, many people have found successful treatment for OCD through things like psychotherapy (specifically a form of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy called Exposure and Response Prevention delivered one-on-one or in group settings), medication, exercise, and/or spiritual and indigenous approaches to healing.

Approximately 2.3% of the population between ages 18-54 suffers from OCD

Understanding Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

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The average age-of-onset of OCD is 19 years old

National Institute of Mental Health

Thoughts:

A person with OCD might think things like:

  • “Everything will feel wrong until I do “x”.”
  • “I have to double check everything a certain number of times before it will feel safe for me to leave.”
  • “This piece just feels wrong, and I won’t be OK unless I get rid of it.”

Feelings:

A person with OCD might feel:

  • Soothed by repetitive behavior, even if it doesn’t seem to “make sense”
  • Anxiousness around specific or general fears
  • Fear that the thoughts and feelings will never stop, or that I can’t control these behaviors

Additional Resources

Beyond OCD Extensive site offering a wide variety of information, resources, and lived experience personal stories. Includes a thorough section for college students relating to symptoms, treatment, and issues specifically related to postsecondary education as well as categories for teens, parents and family. Go to site
Ellen's OCD Blog Personal blog dedicated to breaking down misconceptions around OCD, written by a teenager who has received many media awards and has a personal Youtube Channel. Has helpful tips such as 'My OCD Toolbox' to provide self-care tips for those struggling. Go to site
International OCD Foundation Provides resources and support for those affected by OCD, promoting awareness and increasing access to effective treatment. They offer a directory to find therapists, clinics, treatment programs and support groups. Go to site
Time to Change Led by UK charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, Time to Change is a youth focused anti-stigma campaign informing and supporting individuals struggling with a number of mental health issues. Their blog collection is impressive, posted regularly, and offers a supportive environment for those living with depression and OCD. Go to site
Anxiety and Depression Association of America Links and advice on treatment options, with a database to search the therapist nearest you (in 13 different countries). Provides brief overviews and facts of Anxiety disorders, OCD, PTSD and related illnesses, with links to news and research articles. Offers a membership for researchers and professionals to network, share research and promote practices. Go to site
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) For support and family help, with a network through communities around the U.S. for individuals and families struggling with mental health challenges. Contains articles aimed at helping people find resources, get help, and connect with those in similar situations and includes online discussion groups. Offer a number of ways to get involved including NAMI Walks, awareness events and campus groups. Also offer various support groups for grief and bereavement in different areas of the U.S.  Go to site
National Institute of Mental Health Extensive information and research transforming the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses for prevention, recovery, and cure. Offers health information specific to age and gender. Go to site
SAMHSA: Understanding Obsessive Compulsive Disorder for Young Adults + Caregiver For young adults: this information sheet gives young adults facts on living with obsessive-compulsive disorder, discusses causes and treatment approaches, and provides a list of helpful resources. For Caregivers: Provides a general overview of obsessive-compulsive disorder in youth and young adults, gives guidance on how to provide support, highlights recommended treatment approaches. Includes a list of helpful resources. Go to site

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