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What is OCD, or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?



Definition 


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a disorder of the brain and behavior. OCD causes severe anxiety in those affected. OCD involves both obsessions and compulsions that take a lot of time and get in the way of important activities the person values. 

Here is one way to think about what having OCD is like: 


Imagine that your mind got stuck

                on a certain thought or image...DefinitionImage


Then this thought or image got replayed in your mind

                  over and

                                   over again

                                                      no matter what you did…

 
You don’t want these thoughts — it feels like an avalanche…

 
Along with the thoughts come intense feelings of anxiety…

 
Anxiety is your brain’s warning system.  When you feel anxious, it feels like you are in danger.  Anxiety is an emotion that tells you to respond, react, protect yourself, DO SOMETHING!

 
On the one hand, you might recognize that the fear doesn’t make sense, doesn’t seem reasonable, yet it still feels very real, intense, and true…

 
Why would your brain lie?

 
Why would you have these feelings if they weren’t true? Feelings don’t lie…  Do they?


Unfortunately, if you have OCD, they do lie.  If you have OCD, the warning system in your brain is not working correctly.  Your brain is telling you that you are in danger when you are not.

When scientists compare pictures of the brains of groups of people with OCD, they can see that some areas of the brain are different than the brains of people who don’t have OCD.

Those tortured with OCD are desperately trying to get away from paralyzing, unending anxiety…

 


>>> Continue to "How is OCD Diagnosed?"