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Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a specific psychiatric disorder characterized by obsessional thoughts and compulsive behavior. What exactly are obsessional thoughts? These are specific distressing, repetitive thoughts which a person is unable to ignore.

On the other hand, compulsions are ritual actions which a person feels compelled to repeat in order to relieve anxiety and temporarily stop obsessional thoughts. Obsessive thoughts and compulsive rituals can take up many hours of each day and, in their most severe form, these rituals can prevent a person from completing even the simplest daily tasks.

Possible cause of obsessive-compulsive disorder

The exact cause of obsessive-compulsive disorder is still unknown. Some experts claim that its cause is biological, some claim that the disorder stems from learned behavior and some believe the cause of the disorder may be both biological and environmental.

Biochemical theory

There is strong evidence that some people have an inherited tendency to develop OCD and that OCD is linked to problems in brain chemistry, neurotransmission or receptor functioning. There is a theory which says that an insufficient level of serotonin, one of brain's chemical messengers, may contribute to obsessive-compulsive disorder. It is partially proven because some imaging studies which used positron emission tomography scans have shown differences in brain-activity patterns between people who have OCD and those who don’t. Another proof is the fact that people with obsessive-compulsive disorder who take medications that enhance the action of serotonin often show great improvement after a short period of time.

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