Obsessive compulsive disorder, from herein called, OCD, is medically referred to as a neurological anxiety disorder which may have genetic links and is caused by an imbalance of serotonin. Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter needed to transmit messages from different parts of the brain. When the serotonin levels in the brain are messed up, impaired or imbalanced, the messages that travel from one part of the brain to the other are affected, resulting in "worry thoughts" over and over. Think of it like an old album that gets caught on a scratch and keeps skipping over the same part of the song, over and over.

It is these repetitive "worry thoughts" called Obsessions that drive people afflicted by them to act out time consuming rituals known as Compulsions. These symptoms appear very real and often in the form of a fear, in which they are constantly reminded of and often, there is no escape from.

Below are some of the signs and symptoms of OCD:

· Repetitive rituals: Repeating routine activities for no logical reason. Repeating questions over and over. Rereading or rewriting words or phrases.

· Washing and cleaning compulsions: Excessive, ritualized hand washing, bathing, brushing of teeth, and showering. The unshakable feeling that household items, such as dishes or door handles are contaminated or cannot be washed enough to be "really clean." This can lead to fears of using public phones, opening doors in public places, and the use of other public places.

· Checking compulsions: Repeatedly checking to see if a door is locked or an appliance such as a TV or computer is turned off. Checking and rechecking for mistakes, such as when balancing a checkbook or checking for punctual errors on a homework assignment. Checking associated with bodily obsessions, such as repeatedly checking oneself for signs of a catastrophic disease.

· Superstitious fears: The belief that certain numbers or colors are "lucky" or "unlucky." This can lead to obsessive gambling compulsions.

· Obsessive need for order or symmetry: An overwhelming need to align objects "just so." Abnormal concerns about the neatness of one's personal appearance or environment. Things must be arranged exactly or they will have to be repetitively rearranged to satisfy this demand.

· Obsessions about hoarding or saving: Stashing away useless trash, such as old magazines or newspapers or items rescued from trash cans. The inability to discard anything because it "may be needed sometime." A fear of losing something or discarding something by accident.

· Obsessions with aggressive content: The fear of having caused some terrible tragedy, such as a car accident. Repeating intruding images of violence.

· Excessive list making: Such as repetitively preparing a grocery list over and over, making sure not to forget any item that may be needed.

If you know anyone with obsessive compulsive disorder, it is best to get them the help they need so they aren't living in this situation their entire life. At first they may think you are being mean to them, but in the end they will realize that you were just trying to help and they will be extremely thankful.