The symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder include repetitive rituals and repetitive thoughts, feelings or imaginings, the National Institute of Mental Health says. These rituals may relieve underlying feelings of anxiety in people with OCD, but they give no real pleasure. Both the unwanted thoughts and the behaviors are beyond the person's control. These behaviors cause distress and inconvenience and occupy at least one hour of a person's day.
In OCD, frequent upsetting thoughts are called obsessions and include worries about dirt, religious beliefs, germs, intruders or violence, the National Institute of Mental Health explains. The actions caused by OCD are called compulsions, which are generally related to the obsessions. These can include unlocking and locking doors several times because of a fear of intruders or excessive hand washing because of a fear of germs or dirt. Obsessive fears of social embarrassment can lead to compulsive hair combing. Most adults with OCD realize that their thoughts and behaviors are irrational, but they are still afflicted.
Most cases of OCD begin in childhood or during teenage years, says the National Institute of Mental Health. Severe cases can be debilitating and prevent a person from the fulfillment of work or other responsibilities. Doctors use both medications and cognitive behavioral therapy to treat OCD.
OCD differs from perfectionism or an organized mindset in that the disorder negatively affects the daily life of the sufferer, making it difficult to carry out simple tasks or maintain a good quality of life.