Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a state of fears and unreasonable thought which leads to repetitive behaviors. You can still have obsessive-compulsive disorder even if you only have compulsions or only obsessions.
People with obsessive-compulsive disorder may or may not realize that their obsessions are not reasonable, and they may try to stop them or ignore them. However, that only increases their anxiety and distress.
In the end, they feel driven to perform compulsive acts in order to ease their stressful feelings. The obsessive-compulsive disorder usually centers around themes, like a fear of getting contaminated by microbes. In order to ease their fears of contamination, people may compulsively wash their hands until they are chapped and sore. Although people try to get rid or ignore bothersome thoughts, these thoughts or urges continue coming back.
This often results in more ritualistic behavior, which is characteristic of obsessive-compulsive disorder. The exact cause of the obsessive-compulsive disorder is still unknown, but chemical imbalances in the brain and family history are thought to contribute to the development of this illness. Although people who have relatives with obsessive-compulsive disorder are at a bigger risk of this illness, most people with obsessive-compulsive disorder have no such family history.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder symptoms often include both compulsions and obsessions. However, it’s also possible to have only compulsion symptoms or only obsession symptoms. Obsessions of obsessive-compulsive disorder are persistent, repeated, and unwanted images or urges which cause anxiety or distress. Usually, obsessions have themes, such as having things symmetrical and in order, fear of dirt or contamination, unwanted thoughts, including sexual or religious subjects or aggression, and horrific or aggressive thoughts about harming yourself or others.
Examples of obsession symptoms are doubts that you have locked the door or turned off the oven, fear of being contaminated by touching objects others have touched or by shaking hands, images of hurting yourself or someone else, intense stress when objects are not facing a certain way, avoidance of situations which can trigger obsessions, thoughts about shouting obscenities or acting inappropriately, and distress about unpleasant sexual images repeating in your mind.
Compulsions of obsessive-compulsive disorder are repetitive behaviors that you feel driven to perform. You do these repetitive behaviors in order to prevent or reduce anxiety which is related to your obsessions. However, compulsions bring no pleasure and they can offer only temporary relief from anxiety. When you are having obsessive thoughts you may make up rituals or rules to follow in order to help control your anxiety.