OC Spectrum Disorders

Below we have provided brief descriptions of each of the disorders that are classified within the Obsessive-Compulsive Spectrum. At any given time we may have an ongoing research study focused on trying to learn more about the nature of these conditions, or a treatment investigation aimed at reducing the distress and impairment linked to them.

Please contact us or visit the participate page if you are interested in learning more, have questions, or want to participate!Spectrum Disorders

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

OCD has been identified as one of the leading causes of disability world-wide by the World Health Organization.  It is characterized by intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and behavioral responses (compulsions) meant to alleviate anxiety.  Across cultures, the cardinal features of OCD are remarkably consistent and symptoms can be characterized by a multi-dimensional model that includes the following dimensions: contamination/washing, symmetry/ordering, aggressive, sexual, religious and somatic obsessions/checking, and hoarding.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

BDD is characterized by a preoccupation with an imagined defect in appearance.  This disorder causes significant distress and impairment.  Concerns most often focus on the skin, hair, and face, but can also revolve around other body parts, such as worries that one is not muscular enough.  Individuals with BDD will often try to camouflage the perceived defect and may engage in other ritualistic behaviors, such as avoidance, mirror checking, grooming, and skin picking.  A proportion of patients with BDD will pursue unnecessary cosmetic surgery and many individuals experience significant comorbid depressive symptoms.

Tic Disorders

There are two types of tics: motor tics that are characterized by frequent, involuntary motor twitches or complex movements, and vocal tics that consist of vocalizations of simple sounds, words or phrases.  Individuals with Tourette's Disorder experience motor tics and at least one vocal tic, whereas individuals with chronic tic disorder experience either motor or vocal tics, but not both.  The average age of onset for tic disorders is in early childhood and it is often comorbid with ADHD and OCD.

Hypochondriasis

A diagnosis of hypochondriasis may be warranted when individuals become preoccupied with one or more serious illnesses, despite repeated reassurance from medical personnel and/or contradictory evidence.  Symptoms can include constant worry about the illness or consequences of the illness, as well as checking behaviors and reassurance seeking.

Trichotillomania

Trichotillomania is an impulse control disorder that is characterized by an intense urge to pull out one's hair, leading to noticeable hair loss.  Hair pulling can be classified as either automatic or focused.  An individual may experience embarrassment and emotional pain as a result of hair loss.