People with OCD experience uncontrollable obsessions and/or compulsions (usually both) which they often realize are excessive or unreasonable. Obsessions are recurring thoughts, images, or impulses that are intrusive/unwanted and cause the person considerable anxiety or other forms of distress (i.e., disgust, a “not right” feeling).

Common types of obsessions include concerns about germs/contamination, doubts about whether a task was completed (i.e, locking the front door, turning off the lights and the stove), worries about causing harm to oneself or others, unwanted sexual thoughts, concerns about morality or religious issues, urges to do things in a “just right” way (i.e., put thing in certain places, do things in a certain order), and superstitious thoughts (i.e., beliefs that if certain things are not done “right” bad things will happen).

Although OCD was once believed to be untreatable, advances in science over the last few decades have led to the development of very effective treatments. In fact, research indicates that the success rates for treating OCD are often much higher than for many other mental health problems.

Tic disorders can involve motor tics (i.e., eye blinking, neck and head movements, shoulder shrugging, movements of the hands, arms, and legs), vocal tics (i.e., throat clearing, sniffing, grunting, repeating words), or both.

Individuals with BDD are preoccupied with one or more perceived flaws in their physical appearance that are not observable to others. In short, they do not see their appearance the way others do. These negative beliefs about appearance lead individuals with BDD to engage in a range of compulsive behaviors to try and improve or hide their appearance (i.e., excessive checking of appearance in the mirror, spending excessive amounts of time getting dressed, putting on make-up or styling hair, wearing certain types of clothes to cover up or disguise disliked parts of the body, seeking reassurance from others about physical appearance, skin picking to improve the appearance of skin). However, these efforts rarely succeed in eliminating appearance concerns.

Hair-pulling disorder, also sometimes referred to as trichotillomania, involves recurrent pulling out of one’s hair. The resulting hair loss from this behavior can be mild (a small area of thin or no hair on the scalp) to severe (no eye lashes or eyebrows, no hair remaining on the scalp). Pulling is often pulled from the scalp or face, but can be pulled from anywhere on the body.

Skin-picking disorder involves repeated picking of the skin that results in sores or lesions. Symptoms can range from mild (a few open sores around the cuticles or on the face or extremities) to severe (numerous open sores that pose a risk of infection). Similar to hair pulling, individuals who struggle with these behaviors have often tried, unsuccessfully, to stop picking.