Obsessive Compulsive Disorder


What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Worries, doubts and superstitious beliefs are all common in everyday life. But, when they become so excessive that they begin to interfere with normal daily functioning, an evaluation of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) may be in order.

Fewer than 10% of people with OCD are being treated, even though OCD is treatable when properly diagnosed. On average, people with OCD see three to four doctors and spend over nine years seeking treatment before they receive a correct diagnosis, all the while struggling with their symptoms and behaviors.

Common Symptoms

Symptoms of OCD can include any number of the following:

  • Excessive fear of germs/contamination/dirt, sometimes including fear of shaking hands with or touching others, or being touched

  • Frequent hand washing, sometimes to the point that the skin becomes red, irritated, or raw

  • Rituals, often including counting, such as having to do things a certain number of times or having to have things take a certain amount of time before moving on to another task

  • Excessive organization and strong reactions to having one’s environment or “order” disrupted

  • Unwanted and repeated aggressive thoughts and images in the mind

  • Repetitive “checking,” for example, whether or not you’ve locked the door, closed the windows, or turned the stove off

  • Hyper-focus on symmetry and arrangement of objects, for example, needing all things to face the same direction

  • Ritualistic eating behaviors such as cutting food into a certain number of pieces, having to consume something in a certain number of bites, having a strict order in which foods are eaten, and not allowing foods to touch

  • Repetition of words and phrases

  • Excessive cleaning, sometimes accompanied by a fear of impurity

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Impacted Areas of the Brain

The regions of the brain that are impacted by OCD are the posterior cingulate and may involve the caudate. SPECT imaging measurements will reflect increased blood flow of the posterior cingulate during concentration.

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