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Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental illness that causes people to repeat unwanted thoughts constantly which causes the person to perform the same task numerous times in order to assuage the messages coming from the brain.

One classic example of this is when a person constantly washes their hands because he or she is afraid of germs.

The illness is chronic and it can cause serious damage to a person’s everyday life including relationships, work and school.

Doctors have not been able to pinpoint the actual cause of OCD, but some research suggests that it has to do with problems within the brain and the way in which it sends messages within itself. Some believe that a lack of serotonin in the brain can be one of the causes.

Doctors also have theories that infections such as scarlet fever could bring about the disorder in children or increase the severity of its symptoms.

Anxiety is the general symptom that is present in almost everyone who has OCD. People with OCD obsess over things, which results in following the thoughts and impulses even when it would not seem logical to do so for a normal person. The obsessions get in the way of normal thoughts and cause fear and anxiety.

In some cases people with OCD realize that their compulsions are not real, but in the most serious cases they believe in the fears very strongly and continue to perform these compulsive activities because of it.

Whatever the treatment is a person chooses to combat the OCD, it is vital to stick to it. The person must take their prescribed medication every day, and perform all the tasks that a therapist might recommends to do.

The family members of the patients also need to be very involved in the treatment, because support is needed, as well as good communication, which will prevent these vital relationships from becoming strained.

It is also very important to reduce stress levels in general. Taking slow breaths, soaking in a warm bath, listening to calming music, walking, exercising, getting a massage, drinking tea, are all good ways to relieve stress.

It is also important to focus on maintaining a healthy and balanced diet. Taking time to eat is important, because a nice calm meal will be a lot better for a person with OCD than eating on the run.

Caffeinated and alcoholic beverages need to be cut down to a minimum or taken out completely, because they can only aggravate a person's OCD even further.

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