General Information About Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Related Disorders

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is characterized by a person experiencing obsessions (i.e., unwanted, intrusive thoughts/images/impulses) and engaging in compulsions (i.e., behaviors or thoughts, avoidance of triggers) designed to reduce the discomfort associated with obsessive triggers. Common obsessions include contamination (e.g., germs, household chemicals) and perfectionism (e.g., symmetry), and common compulsions include washing (e.g., hand-washing, showering) and mental compulsions (e.g., counting, “mental review”). Several hours of a person’s day can be consumed with obsessive triggers and compulsive behaviors. OCD can be associated with Tic Disorders, which involve muscle movements and/or vocalizations that are sudden, rapid, and recurrent.

Hoarding Disorder

Hoarding Disorder is characterized by difficulty parting with possessions, regardless of their actual value. People with Hoarding Disorder perceive a need to save items and experience great distress when confronted with the idea of discarding them. The accumulation of items over time results in living areas becoming congested and largely unusable. Some people with Hoarding Disorder actively seek out unneeded items and/or items for which there is no available space.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is characterized by perceived defects or flaws in physical appearance (e.g., wrinkles, thinning hair, nose size, muscle tone) that are not observable or appear slight to others. These perceived defects/flaws lead people with BDD to engage in behaviors (e.g., mirror checking, reassurance seeking, mental comparison to others) that are time-consuming and distressing.


Trichotillomania (Hair-Pulling Disorder) is characterized by the persistent pulling out of one’s own hair in one or more areas of the body (e.g., scalp, eyebrows, facial hair). Hair pulling episodes may be brief and intermittent, or they may last for hours. Hair-pulling results in significant hair loss, and may result in the person feeling out-of-control, embarrassed, and/or ashamed.


Excoriation (Skin-Picking Disorder) involves recurrent picking of the skin (e.g., face, arms, legs) that results in skin lesions. Skin picking episodes may consume up to several hours a day. The consequences of skin-picking include skin lesions, scars, embarrassment, and avoidance of social activities.

Please visit the International OCD Foundation website for additional information.