OCD's Typical Course

Most people who have OCD report an onset of symptoms in their teens or early twenties. (There is also childhood OCD, which often strikes at around age twelve.) It may start with a seemingly mild fear or idea that, like the eponymous Blob in that 1950s horror movie, grows until it's just about taken over your world. Although symptoms often remit on their own — in some cases, for years — they will generally return unless treated.

Finding out that you have OCD can be difficult. You may feel depressed, upset, or even scared. But that first step — knowing what you're dealing with — is also the most important when it comes to reducing your symptoms.

Essential

OCD worries and compulsions can be constant, or they can come and go. You might find yourself free of anxiety and doubt for months at a time — but chances are that the OCD, like any living enemy, is waiting for you, and will return. Treatment and vigilance are your best bets.

OCD is not fatal. It doesn't even have to be chronic. It responds remarkably well to treatment. Like most bullies, it's not half as frightening as it looks, and it will back down as soon as you begin to fight it!

You may also be pleased to know that you're in excellent company: people who have OCD often are very creative, above average in intelligence, and (as you no doubt know by now) imaginative. In fact, many famous people, past and present, have, or have had, OCD. Unfortunately, as you probably also know, imagination can sometimes get out of hand and, when it doesn't have enough to do, cause lots of trouble.

If you do have OCD, there's plenty of good news: You have lots of options, lots of company, and lots of reason for hope. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (even advanced, multi-symptom OCD) has a high rate of successful treatment.

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