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Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) - Exams and Tests

A diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is based on your symptoms, medical history, and a physical exam. Your doctor may also want a mental health assessment, which is an evaluation of your emotional functioning and your ability to think, reason, and remember (cognitive functioning). A mental health assessment may include an examination of your nervous system, written or verbal tests, and laboratory tests (such as blood and urine tests) as well as a review of your appearance, mood, behavior, thinking, reasoning, memory, and ability to express yourself.

Many people with OCD live with the condition for years before being diagnosed. Or they go without treatment because they are afraid or embarrassed to talk about their symptoms. Ask yourself these questions:

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  • Do you have repeated thoughts that cause anxiety and that you cannot get rid of no matter how hard you try?
  • Do you wash your hands frequently or keep things extremely clean and neat?
  • Do you excessively check things?

If your doctor suspects that you have OCD, he or she will look for a full range of symptoms that will confirm the diagnosis, including:

  • Recurrent and persistent thoughts, impulses, or images that are intrusive and inappropriate, cause anxiety or distress, and are not simply excessive worries about real-life issues.
  • Attempts to suppress or ignore the thoughts or get rid of them with other thoughts or actions.
  • A recognition that the obsessions are created in your own mind and don't make sense.
  • Repetitive behaviors, such as hand-washing, ordering, praying, or checking that you're driven to do in response to the obsession. The behaviors are aimed at preventing or reducing distress or preventing a dreaded event.

For a diagnosis of OCD, the obsessions or compulsions must be time-consuming (more than 1 hour a day) or greatly interfere with your normal routine at work or school and affect social activities and relationships.

Early detection

Early detection and proper treatment is very important in improving the course of OCD. This disorder is often a long-lasting (chronic) condition that will need to be monitored throughout your life.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: June 05, 2012
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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