Obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, is an anxiety disorder in which sufferers become obsessed with things like personal safety, grooming and cleanliness, notes the National Institute of Mental Health. People with OCD engage in compulsive behaviors to combat their obsessions.
Depending on their specific obsessions, people suffering from OCD engage in behaviors such as frequent hand washing, constantly locking and checking doors, and compulsive hair brushing, notes the National Institute of Mental Health. There is no known cause of OCD as of 2015, though evidence suggests it sometimes runs in families. People with OCD cannot control their thoughts and behaviors, though most adults with OCD realize that their behaviors are out of the ordinary. They do not get pleasure from engaging in their obsessive behaviors but may experience relief from some of their anxiety.
Doctors treat OCD with psychotherapy, drugs or a combination of the two, according to the National Institute of Health. Psychiatrists often use cognitive behavior therapy with OCD patients, as it teaches them different ways of thinking and behaving that lessen their anxiety without engaging in compulsive behavior. Doctors prescribe antianxiety and antidepressant medications for patients with OCD, though these medications may take several weeks to start working. Some people suffer serious side effects from drugs used to treat OCD and should contact their doctors immediately if they begin to have problems such as suicidal thoughts.