Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, alternately referred to as OCD, is an anxiety disorder that is characterized by recurring thoughts (“obsessions”) and repetitive actions (“compulsions” or “rituals”).
A person with OCD is plagued by constant anxiety. Common fears of an obsessive-compulsive are contamination, death and harm befalling a loved one. The only way he or she knows to relieve the anxiety is to perform certain rituals.
What exactly is a ritual? A ritual can be any repeated action that is used to reduce negative, obsessive thoughts that cause anxiety. For some people, a ritual can be excessive hand-washing, counting or cleaning. Certain numbers and religious symbols are also fixated upon as things that can provide protection from germs or disaster. Rituals are used as a means to gain a measure of control over the strong feelings of anxiety.
Many people who have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder are still children, so experts are surprised at how severe the illness is in some of the younger population. In the past, researchers have proposed a link between strep throat in childhood and the development of OCD. They believed in the possibility that the virus which causes strep throat in children could eventually lead to OCD.
Read more about recent research on childhood OCD: