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Obsessive compulsive disorder facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
OCD handwash
Frequent handwashing is a behaviour often seen with OCD patients

Obsessive–compulsive disorder (often shortened to OCD) is a mental disorder that causes repeated and unwanted thoughts and/or feelings (obsessions) and actions (compulsions).

Anxiety is one of the most common symptoms and can lead the individual to believe that if a task is not completed, something bad may happen. Such a task may be washing hands many times. This belief leads to more anxiety and tension. OCD affects around 1.2% of the world's population, and it affects the lives of around 15%. In the United States, about one in fifty adults has OCD.


Many people with obsessive–compulsive disorder act in a certain way to stop the obsessive thought. These specific actions are known as compulsions. To someone with obsessive–compulsive disorder, doing these compulsions are a way to stop the obsessive thought. They may also think that doing the compulsion will stop something bad from happening to them or someone they care about.

Some examples of compulsion include:

  • Hand washing
  • Cleaning themselves or things around them
  • Doing something (like turning lights on and off) a certain number of times
  • Putting objects in certain orders
  • Counting to a certain number many times
  • Checking that they did some action, usually checking a certain number of times

People with obsessive–compulsive disorder usually know that their compulsions do not make sense, but do them anyways to stop the feelings of panic or anxiety. People with obsessive–compulsive disorder may do their compulsions for hours every day.

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