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Homepage :: Adult disorders :: Obsessive-compulsive disorder :: Diagnostic features

Diagnostic features

  • Obsessions: recurrent intrusive, unwanted, non-sensical thoughts, images or impulses that the patient knows are ‘silly’ but cannot banish. The obsessions relate to the presenting complaint and usually cause anxiety or other discomfort.
  • Compulsions: repetitive rituals performed to reduce anxiety from obsessions by warding off the imagined dreaded consequences. Common rituals are repetitive checking, washing or cleaning, or repetitive rearranging and ordering of objects. Other compulsive behaviours include hoarding of objects and extreme slowness in carrying out every day activities.
  • Most patients have both obsessive thoughts and compulsive rituals.
  • Most patients have or have had insight into their obsessions and compulsions (although this can depend on when you ask them and how anxious they are) and regard them as ‘silly’ and resist them.

Symptoms should last for at least two weeks and the patient should have insight into at least one of the symptoms (ie obsessions or compulsions) as being excessive or unreasonable.

Last edited: 16/9/2003


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