Experts define compulsions and compulsive behavior as performing an action repetitively and persistently, without receiving a reward as a result. Usually, compulsions occur against the person’s will and the behaviors are unpleasant or actively harmful.

Compulsions come in many forms and severities. In some cases, compulsive behavior may be an attempt to stave off obsessions or otherwise reduce apprehension. Many compulsive behaviors are treatable with counseling like cognitive-behavioral therapy, though some are not.

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1. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is one of the main conditions that include compulsive behaviors among its core symptoms. In this disorder, a person experiences a wave of thoughts and fears known as obsessions that drive them to perform compulsive behaviors. Obsessive-compulsive disorder often centers around certain themes; for example, a fear of germs triggers the compulsive behavior of frequent handwashing.

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