Individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) experience intrusive thoughts, images, or urges (i.e., obsessions) that may or may not be accompanied by an overwhelming urge to engage in behaviors (i.e., compulsions) to prevent the thought or to reduce the anxiety caused by the thought.
Although unwanted thoughts are experienced by most people from time to time, roughly 1.2% of the general population suffers from OCD. OCD typically appears in adolescence or early adulthood, but obsessions and compulsions are present in very young children as well.
Symptoms of OCD typically follow a chronic waxing and waning course over time, with flare-ups emerging during periods of increased stress. Regrettably, the majority of individuals suffering from OCD do not seek treatment, often citing feelings of shame or embarrassment about the nature of their obsessions and/or compulsions.
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