Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a unique kind of anxiety. It is characterized by intrusive thoughts (Obsessions) that are unwanted and sometimes disturbing. These can be random thoughts about safety, contamination, morality, orderliness, etc. The anxiety from the thoughts is often reduced or extinguished with a repetitive ritual or behavior (Compulsion). These may or may not make logical sense in response to the content of the obsessive thought. Some common rituals include handwashing, checking/re-checking, cleaning, hoarding, picking, and many others.
OCD can affect people of all ages. It can also affect individuals to varying degrees of severity. Many people can function very well with OCD, others can contain their symptoms when in public only. Still others can spend endless hours ritualizing and unable to leave their homes. OCD is different than Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD), which is characterized by preoccupations with perfectionism, orderliness, control and rigidity in thinking. Individuals with OCPD may spend excessive amounts of time attending to details at the expense of other important events.