Recognizing 5 Types of OCD

Updated: May 1, 2019

OCD can be tough to recognize. It can show up in many different forms, some of which you’ve probably never heard of. So how can you tell if you have OCD? As the name suggests, obsessive-compulsive disorder is defined by the presence of both obsessions and compulsions. In this case, they can be defined like this:


· Obsession - something you’re afraid of

· Compulsion - something you do to reduce your anxiety about it

The fear and the compulsive actions to control the fear become a vicious cycle, until you feel out of control. This cycle is what we call OCD. People with OCD are usually aware that their actions aren’t completely logical, but they feel unable to stop. Below are a few common types of OCD, including common obsessions (fears) and compulsions (actions to reduce fears).


5 Types of OCD



5 Common types of OCD


#1 Contamination OCD

Contamination OCD is the fear that something is somehow unclean or harmful and will cause other things to become contaminated. This fear often comes with a sense of responsibility to make sure that contamination doesn’t happen.


Common triggers:

· Items that are touched frequently (doorknobs, light switches, water fountains)

· Blood or other bodily fluids

· Poison or objects perceived as poisonous (cleaning supplies, expired food, x-rays, chemicals)

· Anything associated with illness or disease (people who are sick, hospitals, needles, bandages)


Common fears or obsessions:

· Fear of getting sick

· Fear of spreading contaminants to self or others

· Fear of having to do extensive washing, cleaning, or other rituals later


Common compulsions:

· Washing or cleaning rituals (ex: soap, wipes, hand sanitizer, sanitizing spray)

· Avoidance of things seen as contaminants

· Asking others for reassurance that they are not contaminated or sick

· Mentally reviewing cleaning rituals or possible contact with contaminants


#2 Responsibility/Checking OCD

Checking OCD is related to the fear that a terrible catastrophe will happen if proper precautions are not taken. Checking is the compulsion that reduces anxiety that something horrible will happen, such as a house fire or break-in. Often this comes with a feeling of responsibility, that "if I don't check [the stove, the locks, etc.], it will be all my fault."


Common obsessions:

· Fear that doors have not been locked

· Fear that the faucet, stove, or other electronics/appliances have been left on

· Fear that certain safety measures have not been taken (ex: parking brake)

· Fear that written emails or texts contained mistakes


Common compulsions:

· Checking items repeatedly, often a set number of times

· Touching items repeatedly to check their position

· Returning to check items that have been previously checked

· Asking others for reassurance that things have been checked

· Mentally reviewing checking behaviors due to questioning whether it was done properly


#3 “Just Right” OCD

With this form of OCD, if things aren’t “just right,” you may have an uncomfortable anxious feeling of things being “off.” This anxiety may be triggered if things aren’t symmetrical, if something feels out of place to you, or if something feels “uneven.”


Common compulsions:

· “Fixing” things so that they look “right,” lined up, or symmetrical

· Repeating a behavior until it feels “right” or “even” on both the left and right sides

· Counting or tapping rituals with a number that feels “right”


Common obsessions:

· Fear that someone may get hurt if things aren’t done just “right”

· Fear that if you don’t do the rituals, you won’t be able to tolerate the “off” feeling or the anxiety of not “fixing” an object. The fear may be that the feeling will never go away and will cause you not to be able to function.


#4 Sexual Orientation OCD

Sometimes called HOCD (homosexuality OCD), this is the obsessive fear of not being sure of your sexual orientation. Research has found that 8-11% of people with OCD obsess about their sexual orientation.


Common obsessions:

· Fear that passing thoughts, images or feelings mean that you are “in denial” about your sexual orientation

· Fear that life situations, past experiences, or changes in relationships are indicators of your “true” orientation

· Fear that others may see you as being a certain sexual orientation

· Fear that you won’t be able to have a happy, healthy relationship with the person of your choice


Common compulsions:

· Mentally reviewing thoughts, feelings, and life experiences to try to “prove” your orientation to yourself

· Asking reassurance from others

· Avoidance of things that might “trigger” upsetting thoughts or images


#5 Moral OCD

The basic fear in Moral or Scrupulosity OCD is that, “I’m a bad person.” When moral OCD is related to religious beliefs, it is sometimes called Religious OCD.


Common obsessions:

· Fear of being an inherently bad person

· Fear of being selfish, immoral, or unethical

· Fear of religious condemnation or hell

· Fear of being “found out” and judged as a bad person by others


Common compulsions:

· Mentally reviewing actions and thoughts for evidence of immorality, selfishness, impurity, or sacrilegious thoughts

· Repetitive or ritualized prayer

· Seeking reassurance about religious concepts or your morality


#5 Moral OCD

The basic fear in Moral or Scrupulosity OCD is that, “I’m a bad person.” When moral OCD is related to religious beliefs, it is sometimes called Religious OCD.


Common obsessions:

· Fear of being an inherently bad person

· Fear of being selfish, immoral, or unethical

· Fear of religious condemnation or hell

· Fear of being “found out” and judged as a bad person by others


Common compulsions:

· Mentally reviewing actions and thoughts for evidence of immorality, selfishness, impurity, or sacrilegious thoughts

· Repetitive or ritualized prayer

· Seeking reassurance about religious concepts or your morality


Getting Help

To treat OCD, I use a combination of exposure and response prevention from cognitive-behavioral therapy, mindfulness, and EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing). These techniques help interrupt the vicious OCD cycle. Read more here.

Dr. Kathryn Soule, PhD, LPC

P.O. Box 100581

Fort Worth, TX 76185

ksoule@souletherapy.com

682-556-4593

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