Obsessions are irrational or unrealistic thoughts that bother individuals repeatedly and some individuals tend to do certain activities because of these obsessions, even against their will power. This kind of behaviour is referred to as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). These thoughts bother them persistently and appear strange to others. Obsessions or uncontrolled thoughts may include sexual images or thoughts, fear of dirty contaminated hands, fear of burglary, fear of harming your child or an accident. Compulsions may include washing and cleaning hands, arranging the things in order, counting money, checking locks of the door, repeatedly. This behaviour makes other embarrassing, disturb the life of patients and also impair their daily activities. Thus keeping the house spic and span is not a disorder. When one cannot stand a little dirty house and spends most of the time in keeping it orderly and clean, even though they do not want to do it but cannot control, from doing it, is one such example. Kids may also suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder. The symptoms and causes are same as that for adults. In kids it is sometimes seen after a streptococcus infection.


  • Genetics: A family history increases the risk of a child developing obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Environmental Factors: Factors that increase the stress
  • Brain Chemistry: Research suggests that people suffering from OCD produce less of serotonin, a chemical involved in normal functioning of the brain. Supplementation with serotonin decreases the intensity of the symptoms of OCD

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder may also lead to other health problems such as:

  • Substance abuse
  • Eating disorders
  • Contact dermatitis from washing hands number of times
  • Other anxiety disorders
  • Depression
  • Substance of abuse


Medications are given with psychotherapy to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder. Psychotherapy for OCD aims at desensitising the patient to doing the compulsive behaviour by exposing them to the fear repeatedly. Thus a person obsessed with fear of dirty contaminated hands is made to wash hands only once when they are really dirty resisting the temptation to do it again. This is done repeatedly to desensitise the person to it. Although it is a chronic condition that requires long-term care it can be treated with medications and behavioural therapy.

Certain simple lifestyle changes can help overcome the PTSD or anxiety and also a well-prepared visit to psychologist offers better treatment outcomes.

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