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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive compulsive disorder is characterized by two elements: experiencing recurring, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and an overwhelming urge to repeat certain behaviors in order to help control those thoughts (compulsions). A person with OCD, for example, may excessively wash their hands due to fear of germs, or might repeatedly check to see if a door is locked or the stove is off. Although people with OCD may know that their thoughts and behavior don’t make sense, they are often unable to stop them.

OCD often starts during childhood or the teen years and most people are diagnosed by age 19. Symptoms of OCD may come and go and be better or worse at different times. More than 2% of the U.S. population (nearly 1 out of 40 people) will be diagnosed with OCD during their lives.

Signs and symptoms of OCD

While many of us may have worried thoughts from time to time, or go back to make sure the door is locked before leaving on vacation, for people with OCD, these behaviors are distressing and end up taking up a lot of their time and interfering with daily life, work and relationships.

Thoughts about harming or having harmed yourself or someone else
Fears of contamination
Doubts about having done something right
Intrusive sexual thoughts or urges
Fear of saying or shouting inappropriate things in public



Compulsions are the actions the person repeatedly performs according to certain “rules.” These rituals are performed to obtain relief from the discomfort caused by the obsessions. General examples of compulsions include:

Checking things


How Crosswinds can help

Though OCD cannot be cured, it can be treated effectively. Crosswinds clinicians work with clients to help them identify, challenge and neutralize their obsessive thoughts. A type of psychotherapy called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is especially useful for treating OCD. It teaches a person different ways of thinking, behaving and reacting to situations that help him or her better manage obsessive thoughts, reduce compulsive behavior and feel less anxious. One specific form of CBT, exposure and response prevention, has been shown to be helpful in reducing the intrusive thoughts and behaviors associated with OCD. Medication can also be a useful tool to help in the reduction of OCD symptoms, and Crosswinds may recommend clients to work with a medical doctor to include medication in their treatment plan.

Get Help

For more information on OCD, please visit:

Anxiety & Depression Association of America
International OCD Foundation
Mental Health America
National Alliance on Mental Illness
National Institute of Mental Health