Obsessive-compulsive disorder is characterised by the presence of obsession and/or compulsion. It causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
Obsessions and compulsions slow some patients down to the point that it can take them hours just to finish their daily routines.
Most patients are well aware that their behaviour is odd or peculiar, in fact they are often embarrassed by it and try to hide it. But others either have never recognized the irrationality of their behaviour or have now to some degree lost that insight.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is clinically important because it is usually chronic and often debilitating.
Obsessions are recurrent and persistent thoughts, beliefs and ideas that are experienced as intrusive, distressing and unwanted. They are recognised as individual’s own thoughts, even though they are involuntary and often repugnant. In most individuals they cause anxiety or distress.
The individual attempts to ignore or suppress these thoughts or to neutralise them with some other thought or action.
Compulsions are repetitive behaviours/rituals or mental acts that an individual feels the need to perform in order to reduce anxiety or distress or in response to an obsession; however, these behaviours or mental acts are not connected in a realistic way with what they are designed to neutralise or prevent, or are clearly excessive.
Usually this behaviour is recognised by the individual as pointless and inappropriate and repeated attempts are made to resist it.
Engaging in the compulsions brings no pleasure and may offer only a temporary relief from anxiety.