Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a psychiatric condition characterized by obsessive, intrusive thoughts, repetitive behaviors (compulsions) and sometimes tics (sudden, involuntary movements). In order to be diagnosed with OCD a person must visit a licensed medical practitioner.
If a person frequently experiences obsessive, unwanted thoughts that he finds either disturbing or persistent, he might be experiencing symptoms of OCD. Additionally, a person who compulsively repeats tasks such as hand washing, checking things, counting things or seeking reassurances may be experiencing the compulsive symptoms of OCD. OCD obsessions and compulsions can manifest in a variety of ways, the most common being excessive cleanliness and orderliness.
Intrusive thoughts are a symptom of OCD. Intrusive thoughts are unwanted thoughts or images that a person repeatedly experiences and may be disturbing, violent, sexual or blasphemous (if the person is religious). Sometimes, the compulsions present in OCD are an attempt to temporarily eliminate these thoughts, images or ideas, although this is rarely effective in helping prevent future intrusive thoughts.
Compulsions are excessively repeated behaviors. A common example of an observable symptom of OCD compulsions is when a person washes their hands so frequently that they become raw. This type of behavior is generally accompanied by the cognitive, obsessive aspect of OCD, and is related to a fear of dirt, germs or other contaminants.