Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

-By Dr. Olaniyi Sherif Registrar: NPH ARO

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a common, long lasting condition in which a person has uncontrollable thoughts, ideas (0bsessions) and behaviours (Compulsions) that he or she feel the urge to repeat over and over.

These repetitive behaviours such as hand washing, cleaning can significantly interfere with person’s daily activities e.g. school, work, and social interactions. It can begin in childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) can occur in all age groups (childhood, adolescence, adulthood, elderly), both sexes (male, female), all races. It may ease over time or worsens.

OBSESSIONS: are repeated thoughts, images, ideas that cause distressing emotions to one. Examples include:

  • Fear of germs or contamination.
  • Forbidden sexual or religion thought.

COMPULSIONS: are repetitive behaviours that a person feels driven to perform in response to obsessions. Although the compulsions may bring some relief to the worry, the obsession returns and the cycle repeat over and over. Examples include

  • Cleaning : to reduce the fear of germs
  • Checking: to reduce the fear of harming oneself or others e.g. checking if the door is locked repeatedly.
  • Ordering and Arranging: to reduce discomfort.


Family: A person who has a parent, sibling, or child with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) has a greater chance of developing Obsessive Compulsive Disorder compared to an individual whose relatives do not have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). It is noteworthy that having a family member with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) does not mean one will surely develop Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

Brain Structure and Functioning: some changes in the brain structure and functioning from normal increase the chance of developing Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

Physical or Sexual Abuse: increases the chance of developing Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

COMMON SYMPTOMS SUGGESTING Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

  • The person can’t control his or her thoughts or behaviours even when the thoughts or behaviours are recognized as excessive.
  • The individual spends at least one hour a day on these thoughts and behaviours.
  • The person does not get pleasure when performing the behaviours but may be relieved from the distress caused by the thoughts.
  • The thoughts or behaviours greatly interfere in the individual’s daily life.


  1. Medication:
  • Antidepressants e.g. Clomipramine, Escitalopram, Fluoxetine.
  • Antipsychotic e.g. risperidone, haloperidol.
  1. Psychological Treatment: e.g. Exposure and response prevention – a technique in which the person is exposed to the situation that creates worries and he or she is thought how to decrease and stop the behaviours that consumes their life.
  2. Both: Medication and psychological treatment.


  • 20 – 30% greatly improve.
  • 40 -50% show moderate improvement.
  • 20- 40% have long lasting symptoms.

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