Skip to content

    Mental Health Center

    Font Size

    Understanding Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder -- Symptoms

    What Are the Symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

    A person with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) may have obsessive thoughts, compulsive behavior, or both.

    Symptoms of obsessions include:

    Recommended Related to Mental Health

    Omar Epps Wants to Prevent Military Suicides

    Omar Epps, co-star of Fox's hit medical drama House, also co-stars in a TV, radio, and online campaign to help stop suicide among members of the military. "The high rate of suicide in the military -- we wanted to shine some light on that," says Epps, referring to the star-studded cast of the public service announcements. "If there's any drop as a result, that's a good thing." Epps joins a host of other celebrities -- including Michael Chiklis, Melissa Leo, Terrell Owens, and Alfre Woodard -- who...

    Read the Omar Epps Wants to Prevent Military Suicides article > >

    • Having involuntary and persistent thoughts that appear to be senseless (such as an overwhelming fear of dirt or persistent worry about a past event) and cause anxiety or distress
    • Knowing that these thoughts come from one's own imagination, not from outside factors (except in children) but still unable to control the thoughts

    Symptoms of compulsions include:

    • Repetitive acts such as hand washing, checking and rechecking locks or electrical appliances, cleaning and recleaning, preoccupation with symmetry or repeating words. These acts may be mental behaviors such as counting or praying.
    • Recognition that the repetitive behavior is excessive or unreasonable (this may not be true for children).
    • Depression and distress as attempts to deal with compulsions fail.

    Symptoms of OCD in Children:

    • Mute behavior with agitation
    • Gradual decline in schoolwork, secondary to impaired concentration
    • Withdrawal and social isolation accompanied by preoccupations with irrational concerns
    • Mood swings from anxiety to despair
    • Ritualistic or compulsive behaviors as noted above

    See Your Doctor About OCD If:

    You are experiencing some of the OCD symptoms listed above, seek help from a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist.

    If your child is anxious or depressed or has excessive fears of aggression, sexual behavior, contamination, or disorderliness, seek help from your child's health care provider or a mental health professional.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on February 27, 2015

    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