Obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD, is a behavioral and brain disorder characterized by compulsive behaviors and obsessive thoughts that interfere with daily functioning, explains the International OCD Foundation. The disorder is commonly diagnosed and treated by a mental health professional.
The obsessions associated with OCD often fall into predictable categories, such as contamination, losing control, religion, perfectionism and harm, notes the International OCD Foundation. For example, an individual might experience recurrent and irrational concerns about contamination with bodily fluids. An example of an obsession related to harm is excessive worrying that one might harm others if not extra careful with one's actions. In many cases, OCD sufferers recognize that these thoughts are irrational and find them very distressing.
Some categories of OCD compulsions include washing and cleaning, repeating and checking behaviors, states the International OCD Foundation. People with checking compulsions might feel it necessary to check their work over and over again for errors, while an example of a washing compulsion is excessively washing one's hands or washing them in a ritualistic way. Constantly praying to prevent negative things from occurring is an example of a mental compulsion.
Cognitive behavioral therapy and medication are most commonly employed in the treatment of OCD, according to the International OCD Foundation. A category of medications called serotonin reuptake inhibitors appears particularly effective in reducing OCD symptoms.