What Is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder? | Learn About the Different Types of OCD

What Is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder? | Learn About the Different Types of OCD

The person going through OCD might try to stop or ignore their obsessions, but it could end up causing more stress and anxiety.


Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental illness characterized by the presence of obsessions and/or compulsions, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which is published by the American Psychiatric Association. "Obsessions are characterized as recurrent and persistent thoughts, urges, or images that are experienced as intrusive and unwanted. Compulsions are repetitive behaviors or mental acts that an individual feels driven to perform in response to an obsession or according to rules that must be applied rigidly," writes OCD UK.


The person going through it might try to stop or ignore their obsessions, but it could end up causing more stress and anxiety, as per Mayo Clinic. Eventually, the person might perform compulsive acts to assuage those feelings. OCD can be very ritualistic and the attempts at getting rid of those thoughts might not always work. Those who are experiencing this can benefit from seeing a mental health professional.


This mental health condition is difficult to experience and many people might not reveal it to others for fear of being judged. In pop culture, we might see OCD being described as a compulsive need to clean, but there is a lot more to this mental health issue. Those suffering from it deserve compassion and understanding. OCD can look different for different people, and if you have someone in your life going through it, the best way to support them would be to learn more about their mental health condition.


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There are five general categories under which OCD can fall, as per WebMD. Here are the different patterns of OCD:


1. Checking

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Those with this kind of OCD could have the habit of checking locks, alarm systems, ovens, or light switches. It can look different as well and the person might think that they have a medical condition like pregnancy or schizophrenia.


2. fear of contamination

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Those experiencing this category of OCD have the fear of things contaminating them. They could be afraid of anything that might be dirty and could have the compulsive need to clean. They could also feel that they have been treated like dirt.


3. Symmetry and ordering

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This form of OCD also finds its way into the pop culture often where we see a character with the need to align everything a certain way.

4. Ruminations and intrusive thoughts

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This form of OCD is often not obvious since it's located strictly in our minds. People might have intrusive and disturbing thoughts which could also be violent in nature.

5. Hoarding

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Hoarding is not always an OCD compulsion. It is considered so only if it's done for obvious obsessive reasons, as per OCD UK. Some aspects of this mental health issue are not considered to be OCD and could be a separate condition.

There are infinite types of OCD and they can impact different people differently. They usually affect those thoughts which are important to a person's life. For instance, a religious person might have intrusive thoughts that their actions could be offending their god. Another person could have fears about relationships and they could be constantly doubting their feelings, their sexuality, and other aspects of the relationship.

When should someone see a doctor?

We tend to compare those who are perfectionists and need flawless results to someone having OCD. However, those are different things. Obsessive thoughts aren't just worries about important parts of your life, and people should see a doctor if their quality of life is affected. Not everyone will experience it in the same severity and the types of obsessions and compulsions can also change over time, according to Mayo Clinic. OCD is usually considered a life-long disorder and it can get worse when someone experiences stress.






Disclaimer: May is Mental Health Awareness Month. You can visit https://www.mhanational.org/mental-health-month for more resources.

Cover image source: Getty Images | Photo by Peter Dazeley

Disclaimer : This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.