Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

By Ofer Zur, Ph.D.

  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) occurs when an individual experiences obsessions and compulsions for more than an hour each day and, most importantly, that these experiences interfere with his or her life.
  • Obsessions are intrusive, irrational thoughts, unwanted ideas or impulses that repeatedly well up in a person’s mind.
  • Compulsions are repetitive rituals such as handwashing, counting, checking, hoarding, or arranging.
  • About 18% of American adults have anxiety disorders.
  • The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that more than 2% of the US population, or nearly one out of every 40 people, will suffer from OCD at some point in their lives.
  • The disorder is two to three times more common than schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
  • OCD affects 1% to 3% of children and adolescents.
  • Heredity appears to be a strong factor in the development of OCD. If you have OCD, there is a 25% chance that one of your immediate family members will have it.
  • Sufferers experience “pathological doubt” because they are unable to distinguish between what is possible, what is probable, and what is unlikely to happen.
  • Generally, OCD symptoms are not relieved by psychoanalysis or other forms of “talk therapy”. However, there is strong evidence that behavior and cognitive-behavioral therapies can be effective alone or in combination with medication.
  • Compared to other conditions, OCD is generally treatable.
  • About two in every 100 adolescents experience OCD.
  • An estimated 700,000 to 1.4 million people in the United States are believed to have compulsive hoarding syndrome.
  • A reasonable estimate is that 20% to 30% of individuals diagnosed with OCD have hoarding symptoms.
  • People who hoard also have higher rates of personality disorders, social phobias, and pathological grooming behaviors such as skin picking.
  • Psychoanalysts classify hoarding as reflective of anal eroticism.
  • According to the Academy of Cognitive Therapy, diminished symptoms of OCD are reported by 75% of those who complete exposure and response prevention treatment.

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