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What is Severe OCD?

Nicole Madison
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Severe obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a serious mental health condition. With this disorder, a person’s extreme fears and thought patterns cause him to behave in an obsessive manner and exhibit compulsions. A person with a severe case of OCD typically becomes consumed with his OCD symptoms and has great difficulty leading a life that most people would consider normal. Essentially, in such a case, the obsessive thoughts and repetitive behaviors are the only things for which the patient has time. Unfortunately, treatment may not free a person from symptoms completely, but it may help to reduce their effect on his life.

When a person has severe OCD, he typically struggles with obsessive thoughts and ideas on a regular basis. He usually has no control over his obsessive thoughts, and they are often illogical. While the focal point of severe OCD may vary from patient to patient, many people with this condition have a fear of dirt or germs. They may feel the need to have things around them organized in a certain way and at all times. In some cases, a person with severe OCD struggles with persistent sexual thoughts or has impulses to behave in an aggressive manner.

The obsessive thoughts a person has with severe OCD are typically unwanted, but the patient is usually helpless to stop them. For example, a person may have repeated images of a loved one suffering harm. Sometimes a patient may even have images of hurting a loved one himself. His OCD may cause him to fear touching others or even touching surfaces that have not been thoroughly and repeatedly cleaned. He may be fearful of leaving an appliance on or a door unlocked and check these things repeatedly.

A person with severe OCD may begin to have other symptoms that stem from the repetitive behavior. He may, for example, develop raw, irritated skin because of washing his hands so frequently. Likewise, he may develop bald sections in his scalp because of repetitive hair pulling. Additionally, a person with severe OCD may feel a crippling anxiety or have panic attacks when things are not organized or handled in keeping with his obsessions.

Severe OCD is often treated with a twofold approach. Patients are often treated with psychotherapy as well as medications to control symptoms. Unfortunately, severe OCD can be a challenge to treat, and many people are never cured. Instead, doctors may focus on controlling and minimizing symptoms so an OCD patient can lead a basically normal life.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a The Health Board writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.
Discussion Comments
By Rotergirl — On Feb 21, 2014

I'd say another symptom of severe OCD is having behaviors that keep the person from normal function or performing the activities of daily living. If someone's OCD behaviors keep them from leaving the house for fear of germs, or keep them from driving a car because they count everything impulsively, or feel compelled only to stop at every other traffic light, this is hampering their daily activities and is keeping them from functioning normally.

I know cognitive behavior therapy is useful for some OCD sufferers, along with medication and other kinds of therapy. Severe OCD is no laughing matter. It is a serious disorder.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a The Health Board writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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