The Reasons Behind The Repetition: Exploring OCD

This project is a requirement of the GOA Abnormal Psychology Course. Using the process of design thinking, a challenge in the world of mental health was identified, interviews were undertaken, and a solution prototype was developed. Below you will find information about the identified area of concern and my proposed solution. Please feel free to provide feedback on this prototype using questions such as “How might we…”, “What if…”, “I wonder…”, “I like…”, and “I wish.” Keep the comments positive, please. For more information on the process of Design Thinking, click here.


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a chronic illness. It can be described by breaking down it’s name. Here’s what I mean. In order to understand OCD, it’s crucial to understand what “obsession” and “compulsion” really mean in this context. Obsession means that person is having uncontrollable, recurring thoughts about something. Very often, these thoughts and ideas cause the person anxiety. Compulsion means that person is feeling the urge to act on their obsessive thoughts. Biologically, when someone has OCD, it means that there is an imbalance in that person’s brain in serotonin, dopamine, or glutamine.

Causes/Risk Factors

  1. Family history
  2. Stressful events in life
  3. Presence of other mental health disorders such as depression or anxiety
  4. History of abuse
  5. Imbalance of neurotransmitters, as listed above.

Beyond these risk factors and one potential  known cause, there is nothing else known about any other causes of OCD.


  1. Fear of germs or contamination
  2. Keeping things perfectly organized at all times, and high levels of stress when things aren’t orderly
  3. Washing hands or cleaning excessively
  4. Repeatedly checking to see if everything is in place (e.g. door is locked, oven if off)
  5. Aggressive thoughts about oneself
  6. Avoiding things that may trigger obsessive thoughts (e.g. shaking hands with someone)
  7. Counting excessively
  8. Following a very strict routine on a daily basis


  • Psychotherapy
    • For OCD, this therapy involves exposing the patient to the things he/she fears most and teaching the patient how to healthily handle the situation
  • Medication
    • The purpose of medication is to suppress the obsessions and compulsions
    • Very often, antidepressants are tried first
  • Currently, research is being done to determine whether Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) would be an effective treatment method as a last resort
    • DBS is when a neurostimulator is implanted in the patient’s brain
      • This device controls the the output of electrical signals to the brain
    • This procedure is more commonly involved in Parkinson’s treatment


IT IS NOT A CHOICE. Reach out to local organizations that are helping through research or raising awareness and find out how you can help!


The International OCD Foundation offers plenty opportunity for us to volunteer and help raise awareness. Check out their website for more information on how you can help!




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  1. April 28, 2017 by Vanessa c

    Hi! You’re webpage was so interesting and I loved learning more about OCD, and what is involved with this disorder. I also really liked the video that you included at the end to help the reader understand more about this condition!

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