Department of Psychiatry
Penn Behavioral Health

Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety

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Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Overview

OCD can be scary and frustrating for its sufferers, family members, and friends. People with OCD have intrusive, undesired thoughts, worries, or superstitions so excessive that they cause significant life distress or disruption. Common obsessions include imagining having harmed other people, having intrusive, unwanted sexual thoughts, and fears of contamination. Others may fear losing control or succumbing to violent urges, have excessive religious or moral doubts, fear forbidden thoughts, or may have a need to have things "just so". People with OCD may spend hours each day performing behavioral or mental rituals to temporarily quell their anxiety. Most people with OCD recognize that their fears are irrational, yet still feel unable to resist the obsessions and compulsions.

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