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Mental Health Concerns
186
OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE DISORDER (OCD)
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by
recurrent obsessions and/or compulsions. OCD can range
from mild idiosyncrasies that may require only minimal
treatment to a debilitating condition that substantially
interferes with daily life Approximately 1% of the U.S.
population is believed to meet the criteria for OCD.
Obsessions are intrusive, irrational thoughts, unwanted ideas
or impulses. . The person may experience recurring
disturbing thoughts, such as “My hands must be
contaminated; I must wash them” or “I may have left the gas
stove on.” The person may be ruled by numbers, fear s/he
will harm others, or concerned with body imperfections. On
one level, the sufferer knows these obsessive thoughts are
irrational. At another level, s/he fears these thoughts might
be true. Trying to avoid such thoughts creates more anxiety.
Compulsions are repetitive rituals such as hand washing,
counting, checking, hoarding, or arranging. An individual
repeats these actions in attempts to reduce the anxiety
brought on by obsessions. People with OCD feel they must
perform these rituals or something bad will happen. Most
people occasionally have obsessive thoughts or compulsive
behaviors. OCD occurs when the obsessions or compulsions
are severe enough to cause serious distress, be time-
consuming (compulsions occurring more than an hour each
day), and interfere with daily functioning. People with OCD
often attempt to hide their problem rather than seek help.
They are remarkably successful in concealing obsessive-