Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

OCD is characterized by repetitive obsessions (distressing, persistant and intrusive thoughts or images) and compulsions (urges to perform specific acts or rituals). Thoughts might be: "my hands are contaminated and I must wash them; I might have left the gas stove on or I am going to injure my child". 

Obsession also occur when a person is excessively concerned over perceived body imperfections; either using plastic surgeons to excess, or excessive exercise. People can also be obsessed with numbers; some numbers represent good and some represent evil; a person may be excessively concerned with sin or blasphemy. Trying to avoid such thoughts create great anxiety.

Compulsions are repetitive rituals such as hand washing, checking, hoarding, or arranging. People believe they must perform these rituals or something bad will happen. OCD probably results from a chemical imbalance in the brain and is helped by behavior therapy and medication.

OCD usually starts at an early age and tends to get worse over time if left untreated. Scientists have discovered a link between the brain chemical serotonin. and OCD. Heredity is a strong factor in the development of OCD.