Obsessive-compulsive disorder is not always as extreme as it is portrayed in the movie The Aviator. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Howard Hughes – a hugely successful businessman and aviator in the early 20th century. In the film, Hughes’s obsessions and compulsions consume him entirely. For many people who have obsessive-compulsive disorder, that is precisely how they feel. For others, the effect of the symptoms are perhaps less conspicuous, but not necessarily with less of an impact on their daily life.

What is OCD

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder where people experience repetitive thoughts that they are unable to stop. These uncontrollable thoughts lead to the person becoming more and more anxious. In order to control these thoughts, these people engage in compulsive behavior with the aim of alleviating the severe anxiety that is caused by the thoughts or obsessions.

While most people experience repetitive thoughts, these thoughts do not consistently create anxiety for the person. Furthermore, these thoughts do not disrupt the individual’s daily life. That is where the distinction between nagging thoughts and obsessive thoughts lay.

What exactly are obsessions and compulsions

Obsessions are thoughts, impulses, or ideas that keep coming up. These thoughts, impulses, or ideas keep repeating and cause anxiety. Examples of obsessions could include a fear of germs or getting dirty, aggressive, or angry thoughts towards self for others, or the need to have everything in perfect order or to be symmetrical.

Compulsions or behaviors that a person participate in to seek some relief from their obsessive thoughts can also be referred to as impulses. Examples of this could include excessive cleaning or handwashing, arranging and rearranging things in an exact manner, compulsive counting, and repeatedly checking on things like whether they have turned the stove off or locked the door.

While most people engage in these actions from time to time, people with OCD struggle to control their thoughts and behaviors relating to the obsessions and compulsions. They spend at least one hour a day on these thoughts or behaviors and engage in these thoughts and behaviors in order to find relief from anxiety, rather than doing it for pleasure. These actions often create significant problems in their daily life and infringe on activities that the person would otherwise find enjoyable.

What are the signs and symptoms of OCD

Therapists, mental health practitioners, and medical practitioners use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders to diagnose mental health disorders or conditions. The most recent edition of this manual is the 5th edition (DSM-V), published in 2013.

The DSM-V lists the diagnostic criteria for obsessive-compulsive disorder. The requirements include the presence of obsessions, compulsions, or both.

Obsessions are defined as repetitive thoughts, urges, or images that cause anxiety or distress. These thoughts, urges, or images are unwanted and invasive. Individuals with these obsessions attempt to ignore, suppress, or replace them with different thoughts or actions.

Compulsions are defined as repetitive behaviors or mental acts that one feels obligated to do as a response to an obsession, or because of strict rules. These behaviors are meant to alleviate anxiety or distress or to prevent a feared event or situation. The compulsions are either not a realistic way to deal with anxiety or distress, or these actions are done in excess.

The DSM-V states two specific conditions for diagnosing OCD. The obsessions or compulsions, or both take up more than an hour a day, or it causes significant distress or impairment for the person with OCD. The symptoms should not be better explained by any other mental disorder, medical condition, or the use of a substance.

What are the four types of OCD

OCD symptoms fall into four types . These types include contamination and washing, thoughts about accidental harm and consistent checking (of self and others), the need for symmetry, counting and arranging, and unacceptable or taboo thoughts and mental rituals.

What causes OCD and who is at risk of developing OCD

It is not clear what causes obsessive-compulsive disorder; however, several risk factors could lead to the development of OCD. Genetics play a role in the development of OCD; this means that individuals are at a higher risk of developing the disease if someone in their close family already has it. A higher risk of developing OCD is also associated with childhood physical or sexual abuse or other traumatic events.

In some cases, a condition called pediatric autoimmune Nero psychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections could lead to the development worsening of OCD symptoms.

OCD is often diagnosed before age 19 older it is possible to diagnose it later on in life. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is often diagnosed at a younger age in boys than in girls.

Treatments and therapies for OCD

Treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder includes psychotherapy and medication. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is especially helpful in the treatment of OCD.

A subdivision of this treatment method, called exposure and response prevention, focuses on exposure to thoughts, things, or situations that produce anxiety or lead to obsessions and compulsions. Through this exposure, the individual learns not to involve or make use of compulsions as a response.

Interactive therapy such as EMDR, DNMS, and BWRT have also been shown to reduce persistent thoughts and compulsive rituals.

Medications like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are also used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder. Treatment with medication can take up to 12 weeks to show signs of improvement.

What are related conditions of OCD

People who have obsessive-compulsive disorder might also experience related disorders. These can include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, tic disorder, major depressive or bipolar disorder, body dysmorphic disorder, trichotillomania (compulsion to pull our body hair), and excoriation disorder (continuously picking at one’s skin).

While obsessive-compulsive disorder could strongly influence and affect a person’s daily life, some treatments could help with alleviating the symptoms. A combination of psychotherapy, especially exposure and response prevention, along with the use of medications, could assist in reducing the symptoms that are being experienced. OCD could co-occur with other mental health disorders, and other orders should be eliminated before a diagnosis of OCD can be made.


Obsessive compulsive personality disorder is a mental illness defined by the strict adherence to general orderliness and control. Those who suffer from OCPD may be described as a “control freak”, a “perfectionist”, and terms that reflect an inflexible state of being.

OCPD differs from OCD in that OCD is characterized by the presence of specific obsessions or compulsions, rather than generalized behavior. An OCD patient recognizes the disruption that the OCD causes in their life. Someone who suffers from obsessive compulsive personality disorder doesn’t generally see their behavior as a problem, and rarely seeks professional help.