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4 Types of OCD & How to Recognize Them

Sun shining through trees with text 4 Types of OCD & How to Recognize Them

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health disorder characterized by recurring, unwanted thoughts or sensations (obsessions) that lead them to do something repetitively (compulsions). Often, these negative and distressing compulsions can inhibit the affected individual’s ability to participate fully in everyday life. In this brief article, we’ll be exploring the four main behavioral sub-types that make up the condition. Obsessions and compulsions do vary from person to person; however, your symptoms will typically be characterized into one of the following categories. If you are looking to be diagnosed with OCD or receive OCD treatment in Carrollwood, reach out to Maulik K. Trivedi, M.D. 

Related: Can I Overcome OCD Without Medication?

Doubt and Harm (Checking and Rechecking)

People with obsessions in this category tend to experience intrusive thoughts related to the fear of unintentionally harming themselves or others due to forgetfulness, carelessness, or negligence. You’ll commonly see individuals with this type of OCD checking and double-checking things like door locks, windows, light switches, and stoves. They may also review their day’s activities or retrace their steps to make sure no one was unintentionally harmed throughout their day.

Contamination (Excessive Cleaning or Washing)

This type of OCD is what most people think of when they hear the term “OCD.” Driven by an underlying and irrational fear of contamination, individuals with this type of OCD will go to great lengths to avoid exposure to contaminants. Feared contaminants are not solely limited to dirt, germs, and viruses and may also include blood, animals, chemicals, and sticky substances. People with this type of OCD will exhibit behaviors like excessive hand washing, frequent clothing changes, and throwing away objects believed to be “contaminated.”

Related: How Exercise May Be Able to Relieve Symptoms of OCD

Perfection (Symmetry, Exactness, and Ordering)

Symmetry, exactness, and ordering is the desire for every task to be done a certain way, with each object having a proper place it should reside in for optimal balance and order. These individuals tend to engage in compulsive behaviors like lining up, organizing, or arranging objects until certain conditions are met. For example, a person with this type of OCD may not feel comfortable until all of the objects on their desk are aligned exactly a specific distance apart or to a specific degree of symmetry.

Forbidden Thoughts (Taboo Thinking)

This category is frequently characterized by unwanted, intrusive thoughts of a violent, religious, or sexual nature that violates the individual’s morals or values. Examples include thoughts of sexually molesting someone, blasphemous thoughts about religious figures, or impulses to commit acts of violence, like pushing a pedestrian into oncoming traffic. These individuals typically have no history of violence, nor do they act on these impulses. Instead, their compulsions involve engaging in mental rituals to cancel out these negative thoughts like excessive praying, avoidance of triggers, and seeking of reassurance.

If you are living with one of these four types of OCD, you’ve probably had to fight very hard and spend a significant amount of time trying to manage your symptoms and resist the urges with varying degrees of success. The good news is that you don’t have to suffer any longer. OCD is a highly treatable disorder that can be managed with medications, psychotherapy, and more when you partner with a psychiatrist in Carrollwood like Dr. Trivedi.

Schedule a consultation with a psychiatrist in Carrollwood today!


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