Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is having reoccurring thoughts, ideas, or images that cause anxiety. These thoughts often seem senseless, but play repeatedly in your mind. These obsessive thoughts or ideas will often lead to an avoidant and/or compulsive behavior. These behaviors are done in a repetitive or ritualized way in hopes of reducing the anxiety being felt. Compulsive behaviors can be both mental and physical.
Many people with OCD do not wish to follow through with these behaviors, as they know their thoughts are irrational, but feel as if they must in order to decrease their anxiety and experience some relief.
OCD can be experienced in many different forms such as: contamination, hit and run, harming thoughts, ordering, counting, symmetry, sexual thoughts, etc. OCD can also greatly impact and affect the individuals and their families.
The preferred treatment for OCD is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This therapy uses an approach called Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). ERP allows individuals with OCD to experience the various events that cause them anxiety, while learning to tolerate the anxiety rather than doing a compulsive or ritualized behavior to quickly experience some relief. ERP assists individuals with OCD to become desensitized and/or tolerate the obsession without the marked anxiety.