This page provides you with information about OCD in adults.

The psychiatric services in Central Denmark Region treat OCD in these teams:

What is OCD?

OCD is an abbreviation for obsessive-compulsive disorder. OCD is characterised by recurring compulsive thoughts and/or compulsive actions. Most children and adults who have OCD have both compulsive thoughts and actions. 

What is compulsive thoughts?

What are compulsive actions?

The experience of having OCD

“I tried to control my compulsive thoughts, but the more I tried not to think of them, the more they filled my head. It was impossible to control my thoughts, and I became more and more convinced that I was going mad.”
Kathrine, 24

OCD often begins in childhood

Reactions from relatives and outsiders

Why do some people delevop OCD?

There is no straightforward explanation for why some people develop OCD. The cause is often a complex interaction of different factors, including genes, congenital susceptibility, and various types of stress and burdensome events.

Factors in the brain

Genetic factors

Other factors

Symptoms of OCD

Many different compulsive thoughts and actions

Compulsive thoughts about dirt and infection and compulsive actions in the form of hygiene and cleaning

Checking behaviour

Compulsive thoughts of an aggressive or sexual nature.

“I was afraid that if I told someone about my thoughts to harm others deliberately, they would distance themselves from me. And I was afraid, too, about whether I really was a violent person when my thoughts kept focusing so much on violence and rape.”
Rasmus, 42

Compulsive thoughts of a religious or moral nature

Hoarding or collecting mania

Compulsive thoughts about symmetry or accuracy

Annoying involuntary imaginings

Obsessive-compulsive symptoms regarding superstition

Somatic compulsive thoughts

Repetitive rituals

Mental compulsive actions

Reassurance seeking

Other types of compulsive thoughts and actions

Examination for OCD

The diagnosis is made on the basis of consultations with a doctor or psychologist

Samtale i psykiatrien


There are two types of documented, effective treatment for OCD: Psychotherapy in the form of cognitive behavioural therapy, and medication.

Doctors, psychologists and others with experience of treating OCD can decide what type of treatment is most appropriate. Before dismissing any option, it is important to get sufficient information about medication and cognitive behavioural therapy in order to be able to make an informed decision. In addition, it is important to remember that there is always a choice. The person is never forced to go on medication or to undertake a course of therapy, and it is always possible to taper off the treatment.


Cognitive behavioural therapy is arranged together with you

Treatment with medication

Advice for people who have OCD

What can you do yourself if you are suffering from OCD?

Advice for relatives

Are you a relative of an adult with OCD?

Text on this page updated August 2021.

Most recently revised by: Mikkel Arendt, Psychologist specialising in psychiatry, Clinic for PTSD and Anxiety Disorders, Aarhus University Hospital – Psychiatry.

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