5 Types Of OCD: Best Ways To Recognize Them

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a medical condition that is driven by obsessions and compulsions. Different kinds of obsessive behaviour and thoughts lead to different types of OCD among individuals. It is a common mental health condition found among individuals these days, and studies have shown that about 0.8% population of India suffers from OCD. Around 2% of the population of the USA suffers from OCD.

1. What Are Obsessions And Compulsions? 

The Truth About OCD: Obsessions and Compulsions

Obsessions are thoughts and ideas that are persistent, unwanted, and troubling. They are impossible to avoid and sometimes can lead to stress and anxiety. It also makes us lose focus until the particular obsession is fulfilled.

On average, about two to three million people suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder in America. About 1 in 50 people have symptoms of OCD at some point in their lives, and 1 per cent of people have been diagnosed with different types of OCD in the last year alone.

2. Primary Factors That Trigger OCD

2-Minute Neuroscience: Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

2.1. Genetics

Genetics tends to play an important role in different types of OCD. A person has a higher risk of OCD if a parent or cousin suffers from this condition.

According to research studies, it is believed that if OCD runs in the family, there are about 25 to 30% chances of an individual developing the condition.

2.2. Brain Structure

In a study conducted in the year 2017, it was found that people with OCD had greater connectivity and activity in their brain parts associated with habit formation and parts that were responsible for triggering emotions, mainly fear.

Studying differences in brain structure is also essential as it may lead to directions to carry out the appropriate treatment.

2.3. Environment

In many cases, even a simple illness or stress of ordinary life can cause symptoms of OCD. In many other cases, the symptoms are usually caused by stress from work, school, and relationships.

OCD also occurs in conditions like:

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Tourette syndrome
  • Major depressive Disorder
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
  • Eating disorder

3. What Are The Different Types Of OCD?

OCD is not just checking light switches and washing hands. There are 5 main types of OCD with many subtypes under each type.

Some common types of OCD found in individuals all over the world include:

3.1. Germs And Contamination

Types of OCD
Photo by Clay Banks, Unsplash, Copyright March 2020.

This type of OCD is about an individual’s fear of germs and obsession to keep it clean. They involve taking many precautions to protect themselves from contamination, sanitizing, disinfecting, and throwing away contaminated things. They also spend a considerable and major amount of time in their lives engaging in the cleaning process that sometimes could lead to affecting their health, jobs, and relationships.

They also live with a fear of infecting people close to them and therefore go into self-isolation.

For example, excessive cleaning and washing when shaking hands, using public washrooms, visiting crowded places, etc.

To learn more about this type of OCD, click here.

3.2. Symmetry And Order

Perfection, order, and symmetry constitute this type of OCD. It mainly involves compulsions and the need for items and belongings to be aligned in an orderly way. A person suffering from this type of OCD may feel incomplete and irritated if items aren’t in the right, exact way.

These individuals engage in compulsions, such as repetitive arranging, organizing, and aligning until their expectations are met. They also spend a significant amount of time, making sure that things are neat and orderly, which can also be mentally exhausting and draining for the individual.

What Symmetry OCD Looks Like!

This type of OCD behaviour is usually accompanied by magical thinking; for example, if one doesn’t open and close the door three times, something bad will happen.

Studies have shown that Mindfulness meditation is a very effective way to deal with symmetry OCD. It helps them to get used to uncomfortable sensations and then gradually lets them go. Individuals suffering from Symmetry OCD are also said to have difficulties expressing their anger because they have a personal history of trauma from previous experiences and situations.

Some of the common symptoms of Symmetry OCD are:

  • Folding and refolding the clothes until they are aligned in a particular, neat way
  • Counting the tiles on the floor and walking according to those boxes
  • Locking the door a particular number of times before leaving.

To know more about this symmetry type of OCD, click here.

3.3. Checking

Types of OCD.
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio, Pexels.

This type of OCD is associated with the individual’s fear of harm, loss, or death. They are obsessed with the need to check and keep checking multiple times a day, be it their cell phone, gas knobs, or door locks. It is a very time-consuming process and interferes with day-to-day life.

In this case, people may also have thoughts about jumping in front of a train, or hitting someone with the car but rarely act upon their urges.

To learn more about this type of OCD, click here.

3.4. Aggressive And Forbidden Thoughts

This type of OCD deals with individuals with unwanted thoughts and obsessions related to religion and violence.

What are Intrusive Thoughts? [& When They Signal Pure O OCD]

Examples include constant impulses to engage in violent behaviour, indulging in blasphemy against any religion, or sexually molesting children.

People suffering from OCD do not have a history of violence in the past. They act on their urges and try their best to suppress their thoughts, but a better coping mechanism is by allowing them to surface and stop before engaging in an unwanted action.

Having negative, unwanted thoughts is normal, and they occur in individuals occasionally. However, it must be seen that those thoughts do not take over our lives and result in any kind of harm to others.

To learn more about this type of OCD, click here.

3.5. Hoarding

OCD and Hoarding Disorder

Hoarding is a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder that deals with the inability to discard worn-out possessions such as used clothes, cans, and receipts. The people suffering from hoarding will have their living space consumed with clutter, which will make it nearly impossible to live in.

Individuals suffering from this type of OCD will have emotional attachments to lifeless objects and will not let them go.

To learn more about Hoarding, click here.

4. How To Treat Different Types Of OCD?

Even though there is no permanent cure for OCD, according to doctors, early intervention and diagnosis will lessen the time dealing with the difficulties OCD brings upon us.

There are many ways to manage it through therapy, medicine, and a combination of other treatments.

4.1. Psychotherapy

The Best Way to Treat OCD [Without Medication]

To a certain extent, psychotherapy can help with obsessions and compulsions; it also helps us change our thinking patterns. The two most common psychology treatments are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP – a type of CBT).

4.1.1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

A type of psychological treatment that includes compulsions, obsessions, and anxiety disorders. This type of therapy provides us with tools to act, think, and react to obsessive and compulsive thoughts, and the final goal is to replace negative thought processes with positive and productive ones.

4.1.2. Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy

ERP is a psychological treatment that helps individuals deal with the anxiety associated with obsessive thoughts and compulsions. As a part of Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy, the person suffering from OCD will be exposed to situations that trigger OCD as a coping mechanism. The constant exposure will help you cope with the situation and gradually deal with OCD.

4.2.  Medication 

Treating OCD in Adults: Medications for OCD

Some of the drugs like serotonin reuptake inhibitors help with controlling obsessions and obsessions. It may usually take about 2 to 3 months to start working effectively. Some of the commonly used ones are Citalopram, fluoxetine, etc.

4.3. Relaxation

5 Types Of OCD: Best Ways To Recognize Them
Photo by Marcus Aurelius, Pexels.

Simple proven techniques to fight against anxiety and different types of OCD are meditation, yoga, and listening to calm, relaxing music.

4.4.  Deep Brain Stimulation

Sanjay Gupta MD: Deep brain stimulation helps OCD patient

Deep Brain Stimulation is a type of treatment that helps to deal with symptoms of different types of  OCD for those who did not get productive and productive results with other types of treatment.

However, on the downside, this treatment has not been fully studied and could pose health risks. Therefore it is necessary to seek the advice of a medical professional before going for this treatment.

4.5. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

Transcranial magnetic stimulation is a type of approach where the doctor places an electromagnetic coil on the head.  The magnetic field present in the electromagnetic coil interacts with the nerve cells and lessens the OCD symptoms.

5 Highly Misunderstood Facts about OCD

5. In The End

OCD is a grave mental illness that can lead to severe dysfunction and emotional distress among individuals. Still, regardless of being diagnosed with different types of OCD, it can be treated and managed with a continuous and dedicated treatment that helps to cope with obsessions and compulsions.

The first step towards recovering from OCD is accepting that the problem exists and consulting a doctor for the same. If you find someone else suffering from OCD, it is imperative to support them and encourage them to get professional help.

6. Frequently Asked Questions

6.1. What Is an Ocd Person Like?

Doubting and having difficulty tolerating uncertainty. Needing things orderly and symmetrical. Aggressive or horrific thoughts about losing control and harming yourself or others.

6.2. How Do I Know if I’m Ocd?

If you have OCD, you’ll usually experience frequent obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours.

6.3. At What Age Does Ocd Start?

OCD usually begins before age 25 years and often in childhood or adolescence.

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Last Updated on by Arnab


Jenita T.J

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