(OCD) is a chronic or long-term illness, and without treatment, symptoms typically come and go over time and may significantly interfere with your ability to work and have a family. Treatment can reduce the severity of the illness. And although some symptoms may linger after treatment, you should be able to have an active social life, raise a family, and work.
Anxiety is the most prominent symptom of OCD. For example, you may have an overall sense that something terrible will happen if you don't follow through with a particular ritual, such as repeatedly checking to see whether the stove is on. If you don't perform the ritual, you may have immediate anxiety or a nagging sense of incompleteness.
Symptoms of OCD vary with each person and include the following:3
- Fear of dirt or germs or overconcern aboutbody smells/secretions or the proper functioning of thebody
- Overconcern with order, neatness, andexactness
- Fear of thinking bad thoughts or doing somethingembarrassing
- Constantly thinking of certain sounds, words, ornumbers, or a preoccupation with counting or checking
- Constant needfor approval or the need to apologize
- Fear that something terriblewill happen or fear of harming yourself or someone else
- Frequently washing hands, showering, orbrushing teeth or the overuse of items to hide bodysmells
- Constantly cleaning, straightening, and ordering certainobjects
- Repeatedly checking zippers and buttons onclothing
- Checking lights, appliances, or doors again and again tobe sure they are turned off or closed
- Repeating certain physicalactivities, such as sitting down and getting up from achair
- Hoarding objects, such as newspapers
- Asking thesame question or saying the same thing over and over
- Avoidingpublic places or taking extreme measures to prevent harm to yourself orothers
- Religious rituals, such as constant silent praying
It is common for children with OCD to need to repeat actions until they feel "just right," such as going back and forth through a door, going up and down stairs, touching things with their right hand and then their left (symmetrical touch), or rereading or rewriting school assignments. Children with OCD may not want to go to school or may be afraid to leave someone they trust.
You may experience suicidal feelings if you have along with OCD. Warning signs of suicide include talking about death or giving away possessions.