Obsessive Compulsive Spectrum Disorders

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a complex neuropsychiatric disorder. It is characterized by persistent, intrusive thoughts called "obsessions" and/or urges to perform certain repetitive strange seeming behaviors called "compulsions." OCD is not simply a single, identifiable disorder. It is frequently a 'masked' disorder, mixed with other symptoms. One can suffer from thoughts alone, the behaviors alone, or both.  To learn more about OCD, click here.

BODY DYSMORPHIC DISORDER  Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a condition that involves an intense preoccupation with a particular aspect(s) of physical appearance in a normal appearing person. Although individuals can become preoccupied with any aspect of their appearance, concern with facial features is the most common. Patients may complain, for example, that their nose is too large nose, their hairline is receding, or they have facial blemishes.  To learn more about BDD, click here.

Compulsive hoarding is a complex psychological disorder that can significantly disrupt a person's life. Hoarding occurs when a person acquires and saves possessions that have either little or no value (or have some perceived value), and the person then has great difficulty in discarding their possessions. The behavior can be a result of many different conditions, including OCD, personality traits, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, depression, as well as neurobiological conditions, such as Alzheimer's Disorder and Dementia.  Hoarding behavior can often lead to other problems.  It is common for hoarders to have interpersonal difficulties, family tension, poor self-esteem, poor social skills, weak decision-making skills, occupational issues, and even legal issues. In addition, there are physical risks, such as falls and fires within the home environment.  To learn more about hoarding, click here.

HYPOCHONDRIASIS Hypochondriasis is characterized by the preoccupation with the idea that one has a serious disease or the fear of having a serious disease. The preoccupation is based on the misinterpretation of one or more bodily signs or symptoms (e.g. "I have a headache, I must have a brain tumor"). Hypochondriasis is viewed as an "Obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorder" since it seems to share many common features with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). For example, hypochondriacal individuals are preoccupied or "obsessed" with an imagined illness, which creates high levels of anxiety. Reassurance seeking behavior seems to act similar to a compulsion in OCD as it temporarily reduces anxiety but increases it over the long-term.  To learn more about hypochondriasis, click here.

TRICHOTILLOMANIA  Trichollomania is characterized by the repetitive pulling on one's hair resulting in noticeable hair loss. Patients typically experience an increasing sense on tension immediately before pulling out the hair or when attempting to resist the behavior. Pleasure, gratification or relief is felt upon hair pulling.  Researchers at our Institute hypothesize that two forms of trichotillomania may exist. Individuals who experience tension before pulling and gratification upon pulling may have a form of trichotillomania thought to be a type of obsessive compulsive spectrum disorder. For others who experience no awareness or pleasure, hair pulling may be a habit. Further research will help clarify these issues.  To learn more about trichotillomania, click here.