The American Psychiatric Association describes obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) as “an anxiety disorder in which time people have recurring, unwanted thoughts, ideas or obsessions that make them feel driven to do something repetitively.”
These repetitive habits can include cleaning or hand washing. The APA says for some people with OCD, these behaviors can often interfere with their daily life, while others with the disorder find it gives their day more structure.
The APA says about 1% of Americans have OCD. To be diagnosed with OCD, the APA says the person “must have a presence of an obsession or compulsion that is time-consuming, cause major distress, and impair function.”
The disorder is often related to other conditions such as body dysmorphia and hoarding.
Treatment for OCD helps people manage their repetitive behaviors. It consists of a type of therapy called exposure and response prevention. Medications are also available.