OCD Explained

Updated: Jan 18, 2021

What is OCD?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a chronic disorder that is often associated with significant distress and impairment in functioning. It can cause someone to repetitively do things to act as a coping mechanism for a larger underlying issue. In the US alone, millions of people are affected by OCD. It is estimated that about 1 in 40 adults and 1 in 100 children have this mental disorder.


There is no real direct cause of OCD. It cannot be predicted or determined what the root source is. However, there are multiple theories about these causes. First, OCD can potentially be a result of genetic and hereditary factors. Second, these compulsions are learned behaviors that end up being repetitive when they suddenly become associated with relief from anxiety. Third, OCD can be caused by an abnormality in the brain. Lastly, OCD can be a result of abnormal and distorted belief systems.


  1. Symptoms include recurrent and persistent thoughts, urges, or impulses that are experienced during the time of disturbance. These feelings are generally classified as intrusive and unwanted, which causes many people to feel anxiety or distress.

  2. Sometimes, an individual person can attempt to ease their mind off of this uneasiness by neutralizing them with another thought or action, known as a compulsion.

What is A Compulsion?

Compulsions are repetitive behaviors and mental actions that a person feels driven to perform in response to an obsession or according to self-given rules that must be strictly followed. The behaviors are aimed towards preventing and reducing stress by preventing an unwanted or dreaded situation. Evidently, these behaviors are in no way realistically related to the situation or even capable of preventing it.


Similarly to most mental disorders, OCD has no real cure, only treatment. One of the most effective treatments is Cognitive Behavior Therapy. Additionally, one can also try to take medication. While it is not as effective as therapy, it can physically force anxiety to be lowered and lessen the urge to perform compulsions.

Helping Others Cope

If you are looking forward to helping someone cope with OCD, make sure you understand what OCD is like. If you have never experienced it, educate yourself thoroughly. It is important to talk to the person beforehand because everyone experiences OCD differently. Try not to empathize with someone who has OCD because you will never understand what is going on in their mind.

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