Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 9/10/2019

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental disorder characterized by having irresistible ideas or images (obsessions) and/or specific rituals/behaviors (compulsions) that are often controlled or driven by the obsessions.

People with OCS show signs and symptoms such as adherence to rituals, repetitive behaviors, and unwanted and intrusive thoughts. Compulsive behaviors associated with the condition can include washing, checking, counting, ordering, and preoccupation with germs, dirt, or contamination.

Causes of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

As with many mental health conditions, there is no one exact cause known for OCD. It is likely to arise as a result of both genetic and environmental influences. People with a family history of obsessive-compulsive disorder have an increased risk of developing the illness themselves.

Other obsessive-compulsive disorder symptoms and signs

  • Adherence to Rituals
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Compulsive Behaviors Like Washing, Hoarding, Counting, or Checking Things
  • Depression
  • Fear
  • Food Aversion
  • Guilt
  • Hypervigilance
  • Impulsivity
  • Nightmares
  • Panic Attack
  • Repeatedly Going Over Thoughts
  • Repetitive Behaviors
  • Social Isolation
  • Unwanted Thoughts


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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.