Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Mental Health Center

Font Size

Most People Have Unwanted Thoughts, International Study Finds

Difference for people with OCD is how they react, experts say

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Randy Dotinga

HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, May 9, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Do you ever feel a bit tortured by the idea that you left the iron on or caught a dread disease in that dirty restroom? Ever have a random thought about hurting someone even though you're not a violent person?

You're far from alone.

A new study reports that many college students around the world routinely have these kinds of "intrusive" worries -- even if they don't have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

The findings suggest it's not the thoughts that are the problem for people with OCD but the way they react to them, said study lead author Adam Radomsky, director of the Center for Clinical Research in Health at Concordia University, in Montreal.

"Almost everyone has these kinds of thoughts. They're normal, and they're a part of being human," Radomsky said. For people who suffer from OCD, this knowledge "can be incredibly helpful to change the meaning that they ascribe to the intrusive thoughts," he said.

About 1 percent of adults in the United States have suffered from OCD within the past 12 months, and about half of those -- one in 200 -- are classified as severe, according to the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

On average, people develop OCD at age 19, according to the NIMH. People with the condition can develop two types of symptoms, sometimes together. They can suffer from obsessive thoughts, like a broken record in their head, based on fears like contamination from germs. Or they may develop compulsions, such as endlessly checking a faucet to make sure it's off.

Researchers in the Western world, particularly in English-speaking countries, have shown that so-called intrusive thoughts are common and not just found in people with OCD. "We were interested in knowing whether this applies in other cultures," Radomsky said. "Is it fair to say that humans experience these intrusions?" Or just those with OCD?

The study authors gave surveys to 777 college students in 13 countries across six continents: Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, Iran, Israel, Italy, France, Greece, Sierra Leone, Spain, Turkey and the United States.

Today on WebMD

Differences between feeling depressed or feeling blue.
lunar eclipse
Signs of mania and depression.
man screaming
Causes, symptoms, and therapies.
woman looking into fridge
When food controls you.
Woman standing in grass field barefoot, wind blowi
senior man eating a cake
woman reading medicine warnings
depressed young woman
man with arms on table
man cringing and covering ears

WebMD Special Sections