Obsessive compulsive disorder: a literature review

Milda Musneckytė1, Urtė Paškevičiūtė1

1Lithuanian University of Health and Sciences, Academy of Medicine, Kaunas, Lietuva


Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized as chronic mental disorder in which a person has uncontrollable thoughts (obsessions) and/or repetitive, ritual movements (compulsions). Obsessions consists of various thoughts causing anxiety. In order to cope with these thoughts, compulsive movements are subconsciously being used by the OCD patients. OCD is the 4th most common mental disorder after social phobia, depression and substance abuse disorder worldwide. According to statistics, 2-3% of world population suffer from OCD – women and men affected equally. Moreover, OCD is common not only among the adults, but also among children. Research shows that 50% of all OCD symptoms are experienced by children and teenagers. OCD is linked to at least one comorbidity, most commonly depression, anxiety, alcohol abuse, or eating disorder. . Even though there is a lack of research covering OCD epidemiology, it is known that neurobiological, psychosocial and genetic factors have a major impact on OCD development. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), anamnesis of patient development, psychosocial, sociocultural, family aspects are the main diagnostic tools. Y. Brown Obsessive Compulsive scale is commonly used to evaluate the severity of OCD symptoms. The differential diagnosis between disorders including compulsions and ticks such as organic disorders (Huntington‘s chorea, Tourette‘s syndrome), obsessive – compulsive personality disorder, depression or schizo-spectrum disorders is essential. Patients usually feel ashamed of experiencing OCD symptoms which leads to approximately 11 year treatment delay after the first symptoms occur.  OCD treatment consists of psychotherapy, pharmacotherapy, or both. The most efficient treatment is using selective serotonin reabsorption inhibitors (SSRI) and behavioral-cognitive psychotherapy. Patient‘s motivation is an essential part of the OCD treatment, however even under the best treatment conditions, OCD symptoms tend to reoccur. The treatment is usually lifelong as moderate or severe OCD remission is rare. In severe OCD cases, surgical treatment or intracranial magnetic stimulation may be used when others treatments methods are not reaching the desired effect.

Keywords: obsessive compulsive disorder, OCD, mental disorders, obsessions, compulsions.