Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) - Total Behavioral Health

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

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What is OCD?

OCD is a chronic pattern in which you may experience unwanted, recurring thoughts and fears known as obsessions. These obsessions lead you to engage in uncontrollable, repetitive behaviors that often disrupt your daily activities, causing anxiety and distress.

You might experience obsessive thoughts, compulsive behavior, or a combination of both. The symptoms of OCD typically emerge during the teenage or young adult years and may progressively intensify over time.

Types of OCD

OCD centers around specific themes, such as being overly fearful of getting contaminated by germs. To ease these fears of contamination, you may feel the urge to wash your hands multiple times until they become raw. OCD is classified by two types of symptoms – obsessive and compulsive.

Examples of obsessive symptoms:
– Fear of being contaminated by touching objects.
– Doubts that you’ve locked the door or turned off the stove.
– Feeling intense stress when objects are not organized in a certain way.
– Having thoughts about not acting the right way in public.

Examples of compulsive symptoms:
– Hand-washing until your skin becomes raw.
– Checking doors or the stove over and over again to make sure they’re locked or off.
– Arranging items in a certain way.
– Following a strict routine to feel at ease or in control.


Treatment options for OCD will vary depending on the severity of it. If your obsessions and compulsions are affecting the quality of your life, then getting treated as soon as possible will help keep OCD from getting worse.

Total Behavioral Health providers may suggest psychotherapy (also known as talk therapy) to help you learn strategies for dealing with OCD symptoms or provide medications to reduce obsessions and compulsive behavior. Often, a mix of both treatments is most effective. Your provider will work with you to ensure you receive the appropriate diagnosis and treatment.


If left untreated, OCD symptoms are likely to get worse and lead to other severe mental health conditions such as anxiety and panic attacks, or depression.

Consider someone with severe OCD who experiences intense fears related to symmetry and order. This individual might feel an overwhelming need to arrange objects in a precise and symmetrical manner to alleviate their anxiety. They could spend hours arranging items on a shelf or aligning objects on a desk to achieve a sense of balance. This is an example of severe OCD that impacts the individual’s daily activity.

Learning how to live with OCD will take time and practice. Relaxation techniques that relieve stress like yoga, meditation, taking a walk in nature, or journaling can teach your body to calm down during times when you feel intrusive thoughts. Try different techniques to find what works best for you, and practice the technique daily.