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What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

Have you ever heard someone throw around the term “OCD” to describe someone that is obsessed with being clean or really organized? That is actually the wrong use of the term. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a chronic mental health disorder in which a person has uncontrollable thoughts that occur over and over again, which are known as obsessions, and behaviors that they feel the urge to do over and over again, which are called compulsions.


OCD falls under the anxiety disorders umbrella in mental health. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorder that Americans suffer with and is estimated by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America to affect about 40 million adults. Within that population the Anxiety and Depression Association of America estimates that 2.2 million people in America suffer with OCD. When a person struggles with anxiety and OCD their lives become interrupted by it. Their work, school, and relationships become negatively affected by it.


Obsessions are repetitive thoughts, mental images, or urges that cause a person to have anxiety. Examples of how this would manifest include:

  • Being afraid of germs, dirt, and contamination
  • Unwanted thoughts taboo subjects such as religion, sex, and getting hurt
  • Aggressive thoughts that are geared towards other people or themselves
  • The desire to want to have things exactly in their place in perfect order and in symmetry


Compulsions are defined by the National Institute of Mental Health as repetitive behaviors that a person who struggles with OCD has the need to do in response to an obsessive thought. This causes a person with OCD high amounts of anxiety. Examples of how this would manifest include:

  • Extreme amount of cleaning or washing themselves
  • Organizing things in a very concise and particular way
  • Constant checking of things, such as if a door is locked or a stove is off
  • Counting


A person that has OCD has a very difficult time controlling their thoughts and actions even when they are aware that they are irrational or excessive. They also can spend multiple hours each and every day having obsessive thoughts and performing repetitive behaviors. Engaging in the compulsive behavior can only bring brief and minimal relief to the anxiety they feel. OCD affects both men, women, adults and children. It can be a very debilitating disorder that can make a person feel like they are not in control of their lives. The good news is that OCD can be treated. Many research studies have shown that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is effective in treating OCD. There are also research studies that have shown that psychotropic medications are helpful in treating it as well, with antidepressants being one that is common.


If you or someone you know is suffering with Obsessive Compulsive disorder please find a local therapist in your area that specializes in using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and treating people who suffer with Obsessive Compulsive disorder.



Roberta Alves is a therapist and counselor at the Essence of Healing Counseling with locations in Ft. Lauderdale and Coral Gables. She is a Certified Anxiety Specialist and has a high success rate with eliminating anxiety from her clients’ lives. She uses a scientific and evidence based type of therapy called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Research has shown that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is proven to be extremely effective in treating anxiety. Roberta is truly passionate about the work she does and loves serving her clients in the Coral Gables and Ft. Lauderdale areas. If you want to learn the proven techniques to get rid of your anxiety call 954-393-2930 to schedule an appointment today.

Essence of Healing Counseling Office Locations:

4601 Ponce De Leon Blvd., Suite # 260, Coral Gables, FL 33146

333 N New River Drive East, Suite # 2000, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301

Phone: 954-393-2930