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Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and it's Types

Updated: Mar 9, 2023

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition affecting millions worldwide. It is characterized by intrusive, repetitive thoughts (obsessions) that lead to compulsive behaviors (rituals). OCD can take many different forms and can impact various aspects of an individual's life, such as work, relationships, and daily activities. In this article, we will discuss the different types of OCD and how they affect individuals.


Contamination OCD

Contamination OCD


Contamination OCD is characterized by an intense fear of contamination, germs, or dirt. People with this type of OCD may experience intrusive thoughts about being contaminated or spreading germs to others. This can lead to compulsive behaviours, such as excessive hand-washing, cleaning, and avoiding certain objects or situations. These compulsive behaviors can become time-consuming and interfere with daily life, causing significant distress and anxiety. In severe cases, contamination OCD can lead to social isolation and difficulty functioning in work and personal relationships.


Harm OCD

Harm OCD


Harm OCD is characterized by intrusive thoughts about causing harm to oneself or others. People with harm OCD may experience persistent and distressing thoughts about harming themselves or others, leading to compulsive behaviors aimed at preventing harm. These compulsive behaviors can include checking whether the doors and windows are locked, appliances are turned off, or seeking reassurance from others. It's important to note that individuals with harm OCD do not actually want to cause harm and feel horrified by their thoughts.


Checking OCD

Checking OCD


Checking OCD is a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) that is characterized by a persistent need to check things repeatedly. People with checking OCD may feel compelled to check locks, appliances, or whether they have completed a task, leading to significant time consumption and anxiety. These compulsive behaviors can become so time-consuming that they interfere with daily life, causing significant distress and functional impairment. The underlying cause of checking OCD is not well understood, but it is thought to involve an interaction between genetic and environmental factors, along with patterns of brain activity.


Scrupulosity OCD

Scrupulosity OCD


This type of (OCD) is characterized by intrusive thoughts and compulsive behaviors related to religious or moral themes. People with scrupulosity OCD may experience persistent and distressing thoughts about sinning, offending a deity, or committing a moral transgression. This can lead to compulsive behaviors, such as excessive prayer, confession, or seeking reassurance from others, to neutralize or undo the perceived wrong leading to significant distress and impairment in daily life. It is also important for individuals with scrupulosity OCD to seek help from a healthcare provider who is knowledgeable and sensitive to religious or cultural beliefs, as well as from a religious or spiritual advisor, if desired.


Relationship OCD

Relationship OCD (ROCD)


Relationship OCD (ROCD) is a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) that is characterized by persistent and intrusive thoughts and compulsive behaviors related to romantic relationships. People with ROCD may experience persistent doubts about the quality and nature of their romantic relationship, leading to compulsive behaviors, such as seeking reassurance from their partner, constantly checking for compatibility, or avoiding physical intimacy. ROCD can cause significant distress and anxiety, and can interfere with daily life and the quality of personal relationships. The intrusive thoughts and compulsive behaviours associated with ROCD can lead to relationship problems, low self-esteem, and social isolation.


Hoarding OCD

Hoarding OCD


Hoarding OCD is characterised by a persistent difficulty in discarding or getting rid of possessions, regardless of their actual value. People with hoarding OCD may accumulate clutter and have difficulty organizing their living spaces, leading to significant functional impairment and potential health hazards. Hoarding OCD is often accompanied by feelings of shame, guilt, and embarrassment, and individuals may become socially isolated as a result of the clutter in their homes. People with hoarding OCD may feel a strong attachment to their possessions and feel anxious about letting go of anything, leading to significant distress and functional impairment. The underlying causes of hoarding OCD are not fully understood, but a combination of genetic, neurological, and environmental factors is thought to play a role.


OCD Cycle

Pure-O OCD


Pure-O OCD is characterised by intrusive, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) without observable compulsive behaviours. People with Pure-O OCD may experience distressing and intrusive thoughts about harm, contamination, sex, religion, or morality, but instead of engaging in compulsive behaviors to neutralize these thoughts, they may engage in mental acts such as counting, repeating words, or checking their thoughts. The intrusive thoughts and mental compulsions associated with Pure-O OCD can cause significant distress and anxiety and can interfere with daily life and personal relationships. The underlying cause of Pure-O OCD is not well understood, but it is thought to involve an interaction between genetic and environmental factors, along with patterns of brain activity.


Symmetry OCD

Symmetry OCD


This type of OCD characterized by a persistent and distressing preoccupation with symmetry, order, and balance. People with symmetry OCD may have obsessive thoughts about the arrangement of objects, patterns, or even their own body parts, and feel compelled to engage in repetitive behaviors or rituals to achieve a sense of symmetry or balance.


Some common symptoms of symmetry OCD may include:

  • Constantly arranging objects or aligning them in a certain way

  • Feeling distressed or anxious when things are not symmetrical or in order

  • Checking and rechecking objects or body parts for symmetry or balance

  • Feeling a need to repeat actions or behaviors until they feel "just right"

  • Spending excessive amounts of time arranging or reorganizing things to achieve symmetry or balance

  • Avoiding situations or objects that disrupt their sense of symmetry or order


Treatment for OCD typically involves a combination of therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a common approach that helps individuals recognize and challenge their irrational thoughts and compulsive behaviors. Medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can also be helpful in reducing symptoms of OCD.


In conclusion, OCD is a complex and heterogeneous condition that can take many different forms. Understanding the different types of OCD is crucial in order to provide effective treatment and support to those affected by it. If you or someone you know is struggling with OCD, it is important to seek professional help. With proper treatment, individuals with OCD can learn to manage their symptoms and live fulfilling lives.



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