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What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental health disorder that occurs when an individual gets caught in an uncontrollable cycle of obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions can be quantified as thoughts that are unwanted or intrusive such as images or urges that trigger feelings of distress, fear, disgust, or a feeling that things have to be done “just right.” Compulsions can be quantified as behaviors or thoughts that the individual tried to engage with to attempt to get rid of or neutralize the obsessions or the feeling they create. OCD can affect adults, adolescents, and children. Most individuals are diagnosed by the age of 19, with earlier onset in males/boys, but it can develop and be diagnosed across all ages.

How is an individual impacted by Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?

Although all individuals may have obsessive thoughts and/or compulsive behaviors, it does not mean we all have some OCD. The diagnosis for OCD entails that the cycle of obsessions and compulsions becomes so extreme that it consumes a lot of time, at least 1 hour a day, and gets in the way of important activities. Oftentimes, individuals with OCD engage in compulsive behaviors they would rather not to, which leads them to feel like they are wasting time. Behaviors that take place to cope with OCD (including some compulsions) can have devastating effects because much of a person’s day could be spent carrying out the various compulsions. This may result in being unable to get out of home or manage normal activities of daily living. Others may appear to be coping with day-to-day life, while experiencing a lot of distress throughout their day. Lastly, some individuals may carry out compulsions in secret or make excuses to avoid social interactions so they can complete compulsions. The compulsion that comes with obsessions can impact different areas of an individual’s life including success in school, employment or career development, romantic relationships, friendships, starting a family, and the general quality of life.

How can individuals with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) cope?

OCD is typically treated with a combination of psychotherapy and psychotropic medication. Sometimes individuals with OCD also have other mental health disorders that relate to the nature of obsessions or compulsions that can be further assessed by a mental health practitioner.

This page is also part of the Roamers Therapy Glossary; a collection of mental-health related definitions that are written by our therapists.

While our offices are currently located at the South Loop neighborhood of Downtown Chicago, Illinois, we also welcome and serve clients for online therapy from anywhere in Illinois and Washington, D.C. Clients from the Chicagoland area may choose in-office or online therapy and usually commute from surrounding areas such as River North, West Loop, Gold Coast, Old Town, Lincoln Park, Lake View, Rogers Park, Logan Square, Pilsen, Bridgeport, Little Village, Bronzeville, South Shore, Hyde Park, Back of the Yards, Wicker Park, Bucktown and many more. You can visit our contact page to access detailed information on our office location.