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Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition in which a person suffers from uncomfortable, recurring thoughts and behaviors.

Obsessions are thoughts that occur repeatedly, feel uncontrollable, and cause extreme anxiety. Common obsessions surround contamination (germs), losing control (fear of acting out to harm oneself or someone else), unwanted sexual thoughts, and the driving need to do things perfectly. Compulsions are repetitive actions that can occur in response to the obsessions. They are things an individual would rather not do, but feels they must do in order to reduce their anxiety. Common compulsions include excessive hand washing or showering, checking things repeatedly, such as locks or ovens, and counting compulsively. Compulsions are time consuming and get in the way of important endeavors, such as work and school, and with social activities and relationships.

The exact cause of OCD is not clear, but research points to neurological and neurochemical causes. Research has also shown a link between sudden onset of OCD in children and streptococcal infections (e.g., strep throat). Many people who suffer from OCD go without treatment because they are embarrassed by their condition. However, it is valuable to talk to a professional if you think you have OCD. The best treatment is a combination of medicine and therapy.

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