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PSYC FPX 3110 Assessment 4 Applying the DSM Obsessive Compulsive Disorder


Capella University

PSYC FPX 3110 Abnormal Psychology

Prof. Name


Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), a prevalent mental disorder, manifests through both obsessions and compulsions aimed at alleviating the distress caused by intrusive thoughts (National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH], 2017). Obsessions are persistent, intrusive thoughts that are often irrational and distressing, while compulsions are repetitive behaviors or mental acts performed to neutralize the anxiety generated by these obsessions (American Psychiatric Association [APA], 2013).


According to the National Institute of Mental Health (2017), OCD affects approximately 1.2% of adults in the U.S. and 1 in 100 children. It exhibits a higher prevalence in females and typically emerges during adolescence, with an average age of onset around 19.5 years. Most cases begin before the age of 35, and onset after this age is uncommon (NIMH, 2017).

Famous People Diagnosed with OCD

Several well-known individuals have openly discussed their struggles with OCD, including Howie Mandel, Megan Fox, Billy Bob Thornton, and Jennifer Love Hewitt.

The History of OCD

Historically, OCD was associated with religious melancholy in the 17th century, gradually transitioning to medical explanations by the 19th century. In the 20th century, psychological explanations gained prominence, leading to the classification of OCD as an anxiety disorder in the DSM-IV in 1994. Subsequent revisions in the DSM-V introduced significant changes to the classification of OCD and related disorders (Stanford Medicine, n.d.).

Theories: What Causes OCD?

Biological Perspective Biological factors contributing to OCD include genetic vulnerabilities, brain dysfunction or neural plasticity, and abnormalities in neurotransmitters or hormones (Atmaca et al., 2007; Browne et al., 2014).

Psychological Perspective Psychological theories propose that OCD may result from learned behaviors, particularly avoidance learning, and dysfunctional beliefs or appraisals, as outlined in the cognitive-behavioral model (Barrera & Norton, 2011; Abramowitz et al., 2018).

Changes in Diagnosis

In the DSM-IV, OCD was categorized under anxiety disorders, requiring patients to recognize the irrationality of their obsessions or compulsions. However, the DSM-V reclassified OCD under obsessive-compulsive and related disorders, emphasizing the presence of obsessions, compulsions, or both, without the necessity of insight into their irrationality (APA, 2013).

Advances in Treatment of OCD

Effective treatments for OCD include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), Telehealth CBT, and Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) (Hezel & Simpson, 2019; Hooley et al., 2019).

What Led to Changes in the DSM?

Revisions in the DSM aimed to align diagnoses based on shared symptoms, comorbidity, onset, progression, risk factors, and treatment response, reflecting a more nuanced understanding of psychiatric disorders (Leckman et al., 2010; Stein et al., 2010).

Support for Change in Treatment

ERP, a cornerstone of OCD treatment, has shown significant efficacy, with two-thirds of patients experiencing improvement and one-third achieving complete recovery. Patients often prefer ERP over medication, as it improves quality of life and eliminates the need for long-term pharmacotherapy (Hezel & Simpson, 2019).

PSYC FPX 3110 Assessment 4 Applying the DSM Obsessive Compulsive Disorder


The reclassification of OCD in the DSM has facilitated more accurate diagnosis and treatment, contributing to its status as a highly treatable disorder. Looking ahead, ongoing research and advancements in treatment modalities offer hope for further improvements in the management of OCD.


Abramowitz, J. S., Blakey, S. M., Reuman, L., & Buchholz, J. L. (2018). New directions in the cognitive-behavioral treatment of OCD: Theory, research, and practice. Behavior Therapy, 49(3), 311-322.

Atmaca, M., Yildirim, H., Ozdemir, H., Tezcan, E., & Poyraz, A. K. (2007). Volumetric MRI study of key brain regions implicated in obsessive–compulsive disorder. Progress in neuro-psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, 31(1), 46-52.

Barrera, T. L., & Norton, P. J. (2011). The appraisal of intrusive thoughts in relation to obsessional-compulsive symptoms. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, 40(2), 98-110. doi:10.1080/16506073.2010.545072

Browne, H. A., Gair, S. L., Scharf, J. M., & Grice, D. E. (2014). Genetics of obsessive-compulsive disorder and related disorders. The Psychiatric clinics of North America, 37(3), 319–335.

Hezel, D. M., & Simpson, H. B. (2019). Exposure and response prevention for obsessive-compulsive disorder: A review and new directions. Indian journal of psychiatry, 61(Suppl 1), S85–S92.

Lack, C. W. (2012). Obsessive-compulsive disorder: Evidence-based treatments and future directions for research. World journal of psychiatry, 2(6), 86–90.

PSYC FPX 3110 Assessment 4 Applying the DSM Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Stein, D. J., Fineberg, N. A., Bienvenu, O. J., Denys, D., Lochner, C., Nestadt, G., Leckman, J. F., Rauch, S. L., & Phillips, K. A. (2010). Should OCD be classified as an anxiety disorder in DSM-V? Depression & Anxiety (1091-4269), 27(6), 495–506.

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