By Dr. Elizabeth McIngvale


Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a treatable neurobiological disorder characterized by recurrent, unwanted intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive behaviors (compulsions/rituals) such as counting, checking, praying, and cleaning. These compulsions are performed in an effort to relieve the anxiety caused by the obsessions. OCD obsessions and compulsions can be extremely time-consuming, causing significant emotional distress and may greatly interfere with day-to-day functioning and interpersonal relationships. Individuals with OCD may go to great lengths to hide their obsessions and compulsions due to embarrassment and shame. It is estimated that one in every 40 adults, and one in every 100 children suffer with OCD.


Facts about OCD:

  • The exact cause of OCD is unknown, although research shows there may be a genetic component.
  • OCD impacts 1 in every 40 adults and 1 in every 100 children.
  • OCD affects approximately 2% of the population.
  • OCD usually appears in childhood, adolescence, or early adulthood.
  • There is effective treatment for OCD.
  • OCD affects Women and Men equally.
  • On average, it takes 9 years for an OCD sufferer to get the proper diagnosis and treatment.



It is important to note that avoidance can be just as detrimental as rituals when it comes to giving the OCD power and contributing to the OCD cycle. Although there may be many places and situations, which you avoid due to your OCD, with proper treatment you can engage, return to and resume activities (thoughts, people, places or things) you have previously been avoiding. When engaging in Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) it is important that you work to eliminate avoidance behaviors (both avoidance of exposure situations as well as avoidance of touching/cross-contaminating certain things) in order to make optimal progress in your treatment.

DISCLAIMER: The content found here is intended to serve as educational content and is not intended to replace therapy. For treatment-related questions, please be sure to work with your local provider or contact a local clinician.



Videos: What is OCD

Choose a title below to view related OCD videos

Dr. Elizabeth McIngvale talks about her personal experience with living with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). When you are in the middle of a battle or a big trigger, it can seem hopeless. But your OCD does not define you and treatment makes that possible for all of us.

Dr. Michael Jenike, obsessive-compulsive disorder institute director (OCDI) at McLean Hospital, talks about the multiple ways to define obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Dr. Eric Storch explains different factors of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and behavioral cycles. OCD can get worse when left untreated. Visit and for helpful tools, educational videos, and resources.

Jonathan S. Abramowitz, PhD, ABPP explains what obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is.

Dr. Elizabeth McIngvale explains what obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is and what it is not. OCD is unwanted intrusive thoughts followed by repetitive rituals (compulsions). Learn about the disorder, when to seek treatment, and when to get evaluated.

Jonathan S. Abramowitz, PhD, ABPP explains what obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is and what it is not.

Jonathan Grayson, PhD, talks about obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and its affects associated with the brain. OCD has two components: learning and biological. OCD sufferers want to be 100% certain and satisfied. There is a part of the brain that responds to uncertainty. Learn how OCD sufferers never feel satisfied or certain and why they continue and repeat their rituals.

Jonathan Grayson, PhD, talks about the biology of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). OCD is not only a learning disorder, but also a biological disorder. It is difficult to point out whether a sufferer is going through the learning aspect or biological aspect. Medication is an important support. Although medication helps alleviate the biological aspects associated with OCD, the sufferer still needs to work on the learning aspects. Learn about the three traits OCD sufferers cannot get rid of: above average intelligence, creativity, and denial.

Jonathan Grayson, PhD, talks bout the symptoms associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Multiple people wonder why they have one particular set of symptoms versus another. Quite often people do not know the reasons, but luckily that does not matter. A condition that starts a problem is not necessarily the one that maintains it.

Dr. Elizabeth McIngvale gives examples of reassurance and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Learn more about how reassurance is categorized as a ritual. Often, individuals with OCD will seek reassurance to feel better from an intrusive thought.

Learn the differences between obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) verse obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) from Dr. Storch. Visit for more educational videos.

Avoidance serves the same function as a ritual in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Dr. Eric Storch explains how avoiding something feard only temporarily reduces anxiety. Visit for more educational videos and information about OCD and other mental illnesses.

Aureen Pinto-Wagner shares information about the vicious cycle of avoidance. When a compulsion is done or a trigger is avoided, the OCD is made worse.

Dr. Elizabeth McIngvale talks about Intrusive thoughts related to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

Help raise awareness of what OCD really looks like