What causes obsessive-compulsive disorder? Dr Luke Norman of the University of Michigan combined data from multiple studies to find the brain networks involved.
GettyImages What is obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)?
OCD has two primary symptoms. First are the obsessive thoughts, which often revolve around fears of harm occurring to the person with OCD or their loved ones. The second symptom is the compulsive behaviours, which are a way the person tries to regulate their anxiety.
Compulsions can be linked with the obsessions – somebody who fears contracting a disease might keep washing their hands. But the compulsions can also be unrelated: the person with OCD might think an event is more likely to happen if they fail to perform an action a certain number of times, for instance. For diagnosis purposes, we typically say the illness should interfere for at least an hour a day and cause significant impairment.
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