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What is Obsessive–compulsive disorder

Obsessions are intrusive thoughts, images or urges that are recognised by the individual to be irrational and unwanted and are usually resisted (the resistance diminishes with chronicity). They may be fears that the person might harm someone or might inadvertently contaminate or infect someone. Although everyone experiences intrusions, the person with OCD tends to assume an excessive responsibility for them, concluding that they might be capable of causing harm or might be morally reprehensible because they have them.

Compulsions are repetitive behaviours or mental acts that the person feels driven to perform. They are often  carried out in order to avoid or neutralise the feared consequence of an obsession. For instance, someone with a fear that he might accidentally pass on germs to his children might engage in frequent and excessive hand washing. Checking and cleaning rituals are the most common manifestations. Obsessive–compulsive disorder has a lifetime prevalence of 2% with an equal sex distribution. Onset is in adolescence or early adulthood, but treatment may not be sought until 10 or 15 years after the symptoms begin.

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