Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, OCD, is an anxiety disorder and is characterized by recurrent, unwanted thoughts, images, or impulses (obsessions) and/or repetitive behaviors (compulsions).
Obsessions can include thoughts of germ contamination or other illnesses, irrational fear of having done something harmful, and obsessive doubt and in turn the obsessive need for certainty with constant second-guessing and need for reassurance. These are some of many possible obsessions.
Repetitive behaviors (compulsions) include handwashing, counting, checking, or cleaning, which are often performed with the hope of preventing obsessive thoughts or making them go away. Performing these so-called “rituals,” however, provides only temporary relief, and not performing them markedly increases anxiety.
Other conditions that are related to OCD include skin-picking (now referred to as Excoriation Disorder), hair-pulling (known as trichotillomania), and Hoarding Disorder.
Being “obsessive” can be different from having OCD, and refers to a certain personality type (perfectionism, things having to be done just-so, orderliness that falls short of being a compulsion, etc…), although this can co-exist with OCD.
Dr. Ranen is an expert in treating OCD in Baltimore and surrounding areas. He is included as a provider in the International OCD Foundation Resource Directory