According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety-based disorder, characterized by obsessions and/or compulsions which result in emotional distress.

A. Presence of obsessions, compulsions, or both:

Obsessions are defined as:

  • Recurrent and persistent thoughts, impulses, or images that are intrusive and cause marked anxiety or distress; but are not excessive worries about real-life problems;
  • The person attempts to ignore, suppress or neutralize these thoughts, impulses, or images;
  • The person is aware that the obsessional thoughts, impulses, or images are a product of his or her own mind, as opposed to delusional in nature.

Compulsions are defined as:

  • Repetitive behaviors or mental acts that the person feels driven to perform in response to an obsession;
  • The behaviors or mental acts are directed at preventing or reducing distress or a dreaded event or situation;
  • These behaviors or mental acts may not always be associated with the content of the obsessional theme. For example, if the theme is Contamination, the ritual may involve mental rehearsal or counting;
  • The symptoms of OCD are not the result of another psychiatric disorder present or caused by a medical condition or substance abuse.

Examples of obsessions may include themes related to cleanliness, aggression, harm, symmetry, etc. Examples of compulsions include cleaning, counting or arranging.

B. The obsessions or compulsions are time-consuming (e.g., take more than 1 hour per day) or cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

C. The obsessive-compulsive symptoms are not attributable to the physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or another medical condition.

D. The disturbance is not better explained by the symptoms of another mental disorder.

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Resource assessment Mental Health Disorder DSM-V Diagnostic Criteria