What is OCD?

OCD is an illness which includes different symptoms in the form of obsessions and compulsions. These obsession and compulsions lead to significant dysfunction in a person’s day to day activities and relationship. Around 2-3% of the general population is suffering from this. The mean age of onset is around 20 years and in a majority of the patient (85%) it's course is continuous. 

Obsession: It is defined as a recurrent and intrusive thought, image, idea, feeling, and impulse. 

Need for symmetry, an obsessional thought

Compulsion: It is a repetitive behaviour in response to the obsession. These compulsions are done to relieve anxiety secondary to obsession, but it may not relieve anxiety or sometimes it may increase. If a person resists compulsion than anxiety increases. 

Compulsive washing of hands

Characteristic of obsession 

  1. Recurrent and intrusive 
  2. Irrational and senseless 
  3. Ego-dystonic (unwanted behaviour)
  4. Against will (unable to control)
  5. Unpleasurable

Common obsession:

Contamination, pathological doubt, somatic, need for symmetry, aggressive and sexual one.

Common compulsion:

Checking, washing, counting, need to ask or confess, symmetry and precision, hoarding and multiple comparisons.

What to do?

If you or someone else having these symptoms, then visit a psychiatrist for treatment.


Treatment includes pharmacology and behavioural therapy (if the patient is truly committed) or both. The final decision depends on treating psychiatrist and patient acceptance.