National Anxiety Foundation

The purpose of this information is to explain Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. We hope that it may help you to decide if you may have this disorder.  It suggests a reasonable approach to promote proper detection and treatment of OCD. 
     This is intended for educational information only.  Treatment for appendicitis is not a 'do it yourself' project.  Neither is treatment for OCD.  If you believe, after reading this, that you might have OCD, you should see your physician who can either diagnose and treat you, or refer you to a specialist. 

Bob saw his psychiatrist for treatment of depression for six months before he finally had the courage to bring up his other 'secret' problem. Since childhood he had a compulsion to count things.  He had to count the letters in words and in people's names.  If the letters added up to any number except 9 he felt a sense of release and could stop counting.  He knew it was silly but nevertheless he had a fear that if he did not do this something bad could happen to his mom or dad.  He seemed unable to stop doing this.  He did poorly in school because he was distracted by his secret compulsion to count letters when he should have been paying attention to the teacher's lessons.  He was later bothered as a teenager by upsetting sacrilegious mental images when he was in church.  Having these sacrilegious images made him feel that he lost his soul for eternity. 
     In addition to these two problems, he was having trouble driving. When he felt a bump as his tire rolled over a little stone, he would think he may had accidentally run over a pedestrian. He would instantly check his rearview mirror for the injured person he feared was lying on the road. Relieved to not see an injured person, he would start to drive forward. Obsessing that the injured person might have been flung entirely off the road by the impact, he would then stop, and back up his car to the scene, and search the ditch and weeds. These obsessions and compulsions were taking over his life but he was too embarrassed to tell anyone about them, even his psychiatrist, up till now. 
     His psychiatrist explained that this was caused by OCD, a metabolic-physiological abnormality, and was treatable with one of about six special medications that work on a chemical in the brain called serotonin.  After the medication began to work, they would employ special psychological maneuvers to help overcome this problem. 
     The psychiatrist told him that with the combined treatment an average person can expect improvement in 3 months.  This knowledge filled him with hope for a better future.