HealthyLife® Students' Self-Care Guide
Section V – Common Mental Health Problems
The repeated acts are an attempt to reduce the anxiety felt with an obsession. Excessive hand washing, for example, helps a person deal with obsessive thoughts or fear of dirt or contamination. Persons can have obsessive thoughts without compulsions. And rituals or repeated behaviors can take place without obsessions.
In and of themselves, compulsive behaviors are often nothing to worry about. For some people, they result in a high standard of performance in their work and other activities. When a person is preoccupied with obsessions and compulsions, though, it can keep him or her from doing daily living tasks. It can also be a sign of a problem called obsessive-compulsive disorder. This disorder is a type of anxiety disorder which generally causes moderate to severe distress. A person with this disorder needs professional treatment.
About 2% of Americans suffer from an obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) at some time in their lives. The disorder often begins during the teen or early adult years, but may begin in childhood. Obsessive-compulsive disorders affect males and females equally, but usually begin earlier in males.
A problem in brain function could be a cause of OCD. Heredity also plays a role.
A combination of medication and behavioral therapy is often most effective. Guidance for family members should be a part of a complete treatment plan.
What You Can Do for a Friend or Relative
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