What should be the focus of history in the evaluation of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)?

Updated: May 17, 2018
  • Author: William M Greenberg, MD; Chief Editor: David Bienenfeld, MD  more...
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OCD is diagnosed primarily by presentation and history. The age of onset and any history of tics (either current or past) should be established.

Elements that are covered when obtaining a patient’s history should also include details relating to the nature and severity of symptoms. [32]

Questions regarding the nature and severity of obsessive symptoms

Have you ever been bothered by thoughts that do not make any sense and keep coming back to you even when you try not to have them?

When you had these thoughts, did you try to get them out of your head? What would you try to do?

Where do you think these thoughts were coming from?

Questions regarding the nature and severity of compulsive symptoms

Has there ever been anything that you had to do over and over again and could not resist doing, such as repeatedly washing your hands, counting up to a certain number, or checking something several times to make sure you had done it right?

What behavior did you have to do?

Why did you have to do the repetitive behavior?

How many times would you do it and how long would it take?

Did these thoughts or actions take more time than you think makes sense?

What effect did they have on your life?

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