Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is characterized by both unrelenting thoughts or images that cause anxiety or discomfort and are either irrational or excessive (i.e., obsessions) and by repetitive mental or physical acts that are meant to alleviate this anxiety and are difficult to control (i.e., compulsions). There are many different types of presentations of OCD. For example, there can be contamination-centered OCD, which can involve compulsions such as tracking contact with contaminants, avoiding contaminants and cleaning if there is contact made with contaminants. There are also other, lesser known types of OCD, such as harm-based OCD (i.e., obsessing over possibly harming oneself or others), relationship OCD, sexual orientation OCD and "just right" OCD .
The gold standard of treatment for OCD is exposure and response prevention (ERP). It is an intensive but highly effective treatment that involves learning to understand your OCD, monitoring existing obsessions and compulsions and then working with your therapist to design an exposure hierarchy that will allow you to increasingly expose yourself to higher levels of anxiety-triggering situations without compulsing or avoiding. As treatment progresses and as you climb the hierarchy, you should find your OCD becoming less and less in control of your life. It can be one of the most rewarding treatments to implement because the gains can be so substantial and so relatively quick to achieve.