Obsessive compulsive disorder, one of the anxiety disorders, is a potentially disabling condition that can persist throughout a persons life. The individual who suffers from OCD becomes trapped in a pattern of repetitive thoughts and behaviors that are senseless and distressing but extremely difficult to overcome. OCD ranges from mild to severe, but if severe and left untreated, can destroy a persons capacity to function at work, school or even at home. Obsessive compulsive disorder is an illness that causes people to have unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and to repeat certain behaviors (compulsions) over and over again. We all have habits and routines in our daily lives, like brushing our teeth before bed. However, people with OCD have pattern of behavior that get in the way of their daily lives. Most people with OCD know that their obsessions and compulsion make no sense, but they ignore or stop them.
Obsessions are ideas, images and impulses that run through the persons mind over and over again. A person with OCD doesn't want to have these thoughts and finds them disturbing, but he or she can't control them. Sometimes these thoughts just come once in a while and are only mildly annoying. Other times, a person with OCD will have obsessive thoughts all the time. Obsessive thoughts make people with OCD feel nervous and afraid. They try to get rid of these feelings by performing certain behaviors according to rules that they make up for themselves. These behaviors are called compulsions. For example a person with OCD may have obsessive thoughts about being afraid of germs. Because of these thoughts, the person may spend hours washing his or her hands after using a public toilet. Performing these behaviors usually only makes the nervous feelings go away for a short time. When the fear and nervousness return, the person with OCD repeats the routine all over again.