Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a chronic or long-term illness. Without treatment, symptoms typically come and go over time and may significantly interfere with your ability to work and have a family. Treatment can reduce the severity of the illness. And although some symptoms may linger after treatment, you should be able to have an active social life, raise a family, and work.
Anxiety is the most prominent symptom of OCD. For example, you may have an overall sense that something terrible will happen if you don't follow through with a particular ritual, such as repeatedly checking to see whether the stove is on. If you don't perform the ritual, you may have immediate anxiety or a nagging sense of incompleteness.
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Symptoms of OCD vary with each person and include the following:
Fear of dirt or germs or overconcern about body smells/secretions or the proper functioning of the body
Overconcern with order, neatness, and exactness
Fear of thinking bad thoughts or doing something embarrassing
Constantly thinking of certain sounds, words, or numbers, or a preoccupation with counting or checking
Constant need for approval or the need to apologize
Fear that something terrible will happen or fear of harming yourself or someone else
Frequently washing hands, showering, or brushing teeth or overusing items to hide body smells
Constantly cleaning, straightening, and ordering certain objects
Repeatedly checking zippers and buttons on clothing
Checking lights, appliances, or doors again and again to be sure they are turned off or closed
Repeating certain physical activities, such as sitting down and getting up from a chair
Hoarding objects, such as newspapers
Asking the same question or saying the same thing over and over
Avoiding public places or taking extreme measures to prevent harm to yourself or others
Religious rituals, such as constant silent praying
It is common for children with OCD to need to repeat actions until they feel "just right," such as going back and forth through a door, going up and down stairs, touching things with their right hand and then their left (symmetrical touch), or rereading or rewriting school assignments. Children with OCD may not want to go to school or may be afraid to leave someone they trust.