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 Anxiety  Holistic-online.com

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Diagnostic Criteria for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

American Psychiatric Association DSM IV manual defines OCD as follows.

A. Either obsessions or compulsions:

Obsessions are defined by the following: (1,2,3,4):

  1. Recurrent and persistent thoughts, impulses, or images that are experienced, at some time during the disturbance, as intrusive and inappropriate and that cause marked anxiety or distress

  2. The thoughts, impulses, or images are not simply excessive worries about real-life problems

  3. The person attempts to ignore or suppress such thoughts, impulses, or images, or to neutralize them with some other thought or action.

  4. The person recognizes that the obsessional thoughts, impulses, or images are a product of his or her own mind (not imposed from without as in thought insertion)

Compulsions are defined by (1) and (2):

  1. Repetitive behaviors (e.g., hand washing, ordering, checking) or mental acts (e.g., praying, counting, repeating words silently) that the person feels driven to perform in response to an obsession, or according to rules that must be applied rigidly.

  2. The behaviors or mental acts are aimed at preventing or reducing distress or preventing some dreaded event or situation; however, these behaviors or mental acts either are not connected in a realistic way with what they are designed to neutralize or prevent or are clearly excessive.

B. At some point during the course of the disorder, the person has recognized that the obsessions or compulsions are excessive or unreasonable. (Note: This does not apply to children.)

C. The obsessions or compulsions cause marked distress, are time consuming (take more than 1 hour a day), or significantly interfere with the person's normal routine, occupational (or academic) functioning, or usual social activities or relationships.

D. If another psychiatric disorder (Axis I disorder) is present, the content of the obsessions or compulsions is not restricted to it.


bulletPreoccupation with food in the presence of an Eating Disorder.
bulletHair pulling in the presence of Trichotillomania.
bulletConcern with appearance in the presence of Body Dysmorphic Disorder.
bulletPreoccupation with drugs in the presence of a Substance Use Disorder.
bulletPreoccupation with having a serious illness in the presence of Hypochondriasis.
bulletPreoccupation with sexual urges or fantasies in the presence of a Paraphilia.
bulletGuilty ruminations in the presence of Major Depressive Disorder).

E. The disturbance is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or a general medical condition.

OCD is specified as OCD With Poor Insight if, for most of the time during the current episode, the person does not recognize that the obsessions and compulsions are excessive or unreasonable.

Source: American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Washington, DC, APA, 1994.

Next Topic: How Common Is OCD?

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