OCD Definition


  • OCD is characterized by repetitive thoughts, images, impulses, or actions that are distressing, time-consuming, or that affect function. *
  • OCD affects individuals throughout their lifespan and is a very common disorder.
  • The symptoms experienced by OCD-sufferers can be very diverse.
  • Individual’s obsessions can focus on things like aggressive and/or sexually intrusive thoughts, concerns about symmetry, religious thoughts, a part of the body, pathological doubt, hoarding, or thoughts of contamination. Sexual obsessions in children are not uncommon.
  • Compulsions can also be varied. They can include washing, checking, counting, repeating, ordering, hoarding, arranging and the conducting of mental rituals.
  • Patients with OCD, more often than not, experience more than one type of symptom at any given time. While the symptoms can change over the course of time, the illness is long-term.
  • At some point in their lives, approximately 2-3% of the world’s population will suffer from OCD.
  • OCD can often have a waxing and waning course. It may increase in severity when left untreated. This can cause unnecessary pain to those who suffer from OCD and to their families.
  • Due to the shame associated with its peculiar symptoms, OCD is often kept a secret, even from family.

*Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – Fourth Edition (DSM-IV)3


Click here for more information about OCD on the IOCDF website.