Health Tip: When Rituals Become Compulsions

It's time to get help

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(HealthDayNews) -- Obsessive-compulsive disorders affect some 3.3 million adult Americans, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

OCD involves anxious thoughts or rituals you feel you can't control. If you have OCD, you may be plagued by persistent, unwelcome thoughts or images, or by the urgent need to engage in certain rituals.

You may be obsessed with germs or dirt. Or, you may be filled with doubt and feel the need to check things repeatedly. Such disturbing thoughts or images are called obsessions, and the rituals that are performed to try to prevent or get rid of them are called compulsions.

Depression or other anxiety disorders may accompany OCD. In addition, people with OCD may avoid situations in which they might confront their obsessions, or they may try unsuccessfully to use alcohol or drugs to calm themselves.

Fortunately, OCD usually responds well to treatment with medication or carefully targeted psychotherapy, the NIMH says.

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