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Atlanta Psychiatric Consultation Center | General Psychiatry, Forensic Psychiatry and Evaluation Team

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessions are intrusive, irrational thoughts that drive a person to certain behaviors. For example, a person may become obsessed with hand hygiene and may, therefore, be driven to wash their hands continuously. Compulsions drive an individual to perform actions over and over and over again. Specific examples include hand washing, counting, checking, hoarding, or arranging.  Obsessive-compulsive disorder occurs when an individual experiences obsessions and compulsions for more than an hour each day, in a way that interferes with their lives. OCD can affect anyone.

What causes OCD?
A large body of scientific evidence suggests that OCD results from a chemical imbalance in the brain. Clinical researchers have implicated certain brain regions such as the basal ganglia and frontal lobe regions of the brain that appear to be overactive in the OCD sufferer. They have also identified abnormal levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin in affected patients. OCD is a chronic disease which will not disappear on its own and requires treatment. Fortunately, effective treatments are now available which will help to dissipate the debilitating symptoms of this disease. OCD usually starts at an early age, often before adolescence. OCD tends to worsen as the person grows older, if left untreated.