Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder in which people experience recurrent thoughts and feelings called obsessions. These thoughts drive them to perform repetitive behaviors or rituals called compulsions. Repetitive behaviors include hand washing, counting floor or ceiling tiles, or intense cleaning. These thoughts and behaviors are considered disorders because they can significantly interfere with a person’s daily living and relationships. Persistent thoughts or repetitive behaviors are not the sole domain of people with obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Almost everyone experiences these things from time to time. The difference is that in people living with OCD, those thoughts are almost ever-present, and the compulsions are regular and intense enough to interfere with everyday life. Not ‘giving in’ to the compulsion is extraordinarily uncomfortable and stressful. People with obsessive-compulsive disorder often know these feelings aren’t realistic or practical, but that doesn’t cause them to subside. Other OCD sufferers have what is known as limited insight, which means they can rationalize their obsessions and compulsions.