Obsessive–compulsive disorder

A psychiatric condition in which a person is dogged by persistent ideas (obsessions) that lead to repetitive, ritualized acts (compulsions). Obsessions are commonly based on fears about security or becoming infected. In obsessional rumination, there is constant brooding over a word, phrase, or unanswerable problem. Compulsions may occur frequently enough to disrupt work and social life. The disorder is often accompanied by depression and anxiety. If severe, a person may become housebound. The disorder usually starts in adolescence. Genetic factors, an obsessive personality, or a tendency to neurotic symptoms may contribute. Some types of brain damage, especially in encephalitis, can cause obsessional symptoms. Many sufferers respond well to behaviour therapy, which may be combined with antidepressant drugs, but symptoms may recur under stress.


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