1. Health

Top OCD Facts

Here are the Essential OCD facts you Need to Know.


Updated June 09, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Coping effectively with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) requires a good understanding of the essential OCD facts around causes, diagnosis and treatment of this disorder. Here are the top OCD facts you need to know.

1. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder. People affected by this mental illness experience severe anxiety as the result of obsessive thoughts. Often, rituals or compulsions are used reduce the anxiety caused by obsessions.

2. Most people with OCD have insight into their symptoms; that is, they recognize the irrationality or excessiveness of obsessions and/or compulsions. This can be one of the most frustrating aspects of the disorder.

3. OCD affects about 2.5% of people over their lifetime. There is no difference in the rate of OCD among men and women. People of all cultures and ethnicity are affected.

4. The symptoms of OCD usually start in adolescence and early adulthood; however, children as young as 4 can be affected. Although rare, OCD can also begin in late adulthood.

5. A single OCD gene has not been identified. Developing OCD is the result of a complex interaction between life experience and genetic risk factors. 6. OCD can’t be diagnosed using a blood-test or x-ray. Diagnosis is done by a trained mental health professional such as psychiatrist or psychologist using diagnostic criteria and clinical experience. The symptoms of OCD can resemble other illnesses so it is important to seek professional help. 7. Effective treatments are available. These include medications such as Prozac (Fluoxetine), Zoloft (Sertraline), Paxil (Paroxetine), and Anafranil (Clomipramine) that affect levels of serotonin, as well as psychotherapies including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Medication and psychotherapy appear to work about equally as well.
  • Will Psychotherapy Work for Me? 8. Stress is a major trigger of OCD symptoms. Keeping your stress levels in check will go a long way toward reducing the severity and frequency of your symptoms. 9. OCD is a chronic illness. Your focus should be on day-to-day management of your symptoms, rather than a final cure. 10. Many successful intelligent people suffer from anxiety disorders, including OCD. With good coping mechanisms and treatments in place it is certainly possible to live a happy and productive life. Sources:

    American Psychiatric Association. "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th ed., text revision" 2000 Washington, DC: Author.

    Goodman, Wayne K. & Lydiard, R. Bruce. "Recognition and treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder". Journal of Clinical Psychiatry December 2007 68: e30. 01 September 2008.

    Pauls, David. "The genetics of obsessive compulsive disorder: a review of the evidence." American Journal of Medical Genetics April 15 2008 148: 133-139. 01 September 2008.

    Schruers, K., Koning, K., Luermans, J., Haack, M. J., & Griez, E. "Obsessive-compulsive disorder: a critical review of therapeutic perspectives". Acta psychiatrica Scandinavica 15 February 2005 111:261-271. 01 September 2008.

    1. About.com
    2. Health
    3. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
    4. OCD Basics
    5. Essential OCD Facts You Need to Know

    ©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

    We comply with the HONcode standard
    for trustworthy health
    information: verify here.