What are Obsessions and Compulsions?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) affects approximately 1 in 40 adults in the United States. Many people have disturbing thoughts at times, but those with OCD experience recurring thoughts that compel them to act in some way – these are called obsessions and compulsions. This negative cycle of anxious thinking and doing can make it difficult to perform daily functions, such as with school, work, family and home responsibilities, social interactions, and more. The International OCD Foundation (ICF) emphasizes that extreme anxiety is experienced alongside intrusive thoughts, distinguishing those with OCD from those who do not have the disorder. By understanding obsessions and compulsions, you can get a better sense of what you’re experiencing – and know you’re not alone. If you are a friend or family member of someone with OCD, learning more about their disorder means that you can better support them.

Obsessions can be thoughts, urges or mental images that cause severe anxiety; for example, a person may have obsessions about contamination or things being symmetrical. While many movies and television shows depict OCD as being primarily obsessed with cleaning or order, there are four main categories of obsessions:

  • Checking
  • Contamination/Mental contamination
  • Hoarding
  • Rumination/Intrusive thoughts

Compulsions, on the other hand, are what a person does in response to these obsessions. There are many, many actions that a person may take, including: checking or cleaning something multiple times, seeking reassurance from others, avoiding certain objects, and more. Many people with OCD perform these rituals with the belief that it will ease their anxiety; unfortunately, in most cases, this serves as only a temporary relief and the anxiety may increase. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) emphasizes that not all rituals are compulsions; for those with OCD in particular, these rituals do not produce feelings of pleasure, and often cause significant distress in daily life.

If you haven’t already, speak with a professional from a reputable treatment center regarding a customized treatment program for OCD. Recovery is possible, and you are not alone.

Learning to be is part of the process of trauma recovery. Stop the cycle of merry-go-round treatment and find the solution you’re looking for in trauma treatment. Through effective residential treatment, Khiron House helps you find the path you need toward health and wellness in recovery. For information, call us today. UK: 020 3811 2575 (24 hours). USA: (866) 801 6184 (24 hours).