Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a type of anxiety disorder. It can be a serious mental health condition, impacting your life in a variety of ways. In day-to-day conversation, people might say, “I’m so OCD” because they believe the condition is simply a fixation on things being orderly and clean. This is a huge misconception. Viewing OCD in this way diminishes the real suffering that people with OCD experience.
It’s important to be aware of OCD symptoms. Understanding them will help you to realize if you or someone close to you needs help.
The 5 Types of OCD
OCD can be a major source of discomfort in someone’s life. Patients often struggle with persistent, repetitive behaviors, thoughts and images. Besides being extremely distressing, the condition can interfere with your life.
There are five categories of OCD. Each one still falls under the broader category of OCD because of its obsessive and compulsive nature, but its thoughts and behaviors are different. You may experience symptoms from more than one subtype.
The five types of OCD are:
1. Contamination Obsessions
If you struggle with this type of OCD, then you will obsess about being contaminated. To relieve the distress this causes, you may wash or clean yourself excessively. People with this subtype of OCD may repeatedly wash their hands, for example, sometimes for hours at a time.
2. Symmetry and Ordering Obsessions
People with symmetry obsessions feel compelled to arrange objects so they look “just right.” This might involve color-coordinating your wardrobe or thinking or saying something until it sounds perfect. OCD symptoms of this subtype feature an obsession with order and exactness, as well as compulsive counting.
Hoarding is both a diagnosis in itself and a category of OCD. It usually involves collecting items that others wouldn’t judge as having much value. Such items may include:
- Old magazines
- Junk mail
OCD sufferers of this type often experience obsessive fears about losing items, believing they will one day need them. They have an excessive emotional attachment to their possessions.
4. Harm Obsessions
People with harm obsessions have distressing thoughts related to harm. If you suffer from this subtype, you may constantly have thoughts about possible harm to yourself or others. To deal with these thoughts, you may engage in checking rituals, such as repeatedly returning to your house to make sure it isn’t burning down or constantly checking that your stove is switched off.
5. Pure OCD
People with purely obsessional OCD, pure O or obsessions without visible compulsions tend to have unwanted obsessions with religious, sexual or aggressive themes. For instance, you may have intrusive thoughts about being a rapist or a violent person.
There are no visible compulsions. Instead, people with pure O use mental rituals, like silently counting, to relieve their anxiety. Sufferers tend to avoid triggers for their OCD symptoms at all costs.
Common OCD Signs and Symptoms
What ties all the above categories together is that they are characterized by obsessions and compulsions.
OCD Symptoms Involving Obsessions
Signs of OCD obsession may include:
- Repetitive, unwanted thoughts
- Persistent sexual thoughts
- Aggressive impulses
- Thoughts about causing harm to yourself or others
- Intrusive images of hurting loved ones
- Fear of contamination
OCD Symptoms Involving Compulsions
Common compulsions include:
- Constant checking, counting or tapping
- Repeatedly cleaning items
- Repeatedly washing
- Arranging objects to face a certain way
- Repeatedly visiting loved ones to make sure they’re safe
Emotional Symptoms of OCD
OCD symptoms are often accompanied by certain unpleasant emotional states. You might feel extremely anxious and emotional a lot of the time and show signs of:
- Excessive worry
- Extreme tension
- Constantly feeling that nothing is right
Physical Symptoms of OCD
In addition to behavioral signs, like checking, an OCD sufferer can develop physical problems. For example, someone with contamination obsessions may get raw, red, painful hands from washing them too often, for too long.
Since OCD is an anxiety disorder, it often features physical symptoms tied to anxious thoughts, like:
- Faster heartbeat
- Difficulty breathing
Short-Term Effects of OCD
OCD sufferers can experience short-term effects that impact the quality of their life. These can include:
- Letting your duties and responsibilities fall by the wayside
- Difficulties at work or school – Given the intrusive thoughts involved, OCD can lead to concentration problems.
- Trouble maintaining romantic relationships or friendships
Long-Term Effects of OCD
All of the above short-term effects of OCD can significantly impact your quality of life. As a result, certain long-term effects can manifest, including:
- Constant anxiety
- Substance abuse
- Suicidal thoughts
- Financial loss
- Diminished educational or occupational attainment
- Job loss or unemployment
Whatever kind of OCD symptoms you experience, it’s crucial to know that help and support are out there. OCD is a treatable mental health condition. Treatment options that can help you manage OCD symptoms include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) – This involves becoming more mindful of how your thoughts, beliefs and attitudes affect your feelings and actions. CBT teaches you how to respond to OCD symptoms in a healthier way.
- Exposure and response prevention (ERP) – This form of talk therapy works by helping you confront your OCD obsessions and resist your compulsions.
- Psychiatric medications, such as antidepressants, tranquilizers and beta-blockers can relieve OCD symptoms.
Here at Lucida, we will help you identify the nature and degree of your OCD symptoms. Then we work with you to find treatment for OCD that makes your life easier and more enjoyable. Call us at 844-874-8503 for a free, confidential assessment.