Hello dear Brave one!

Here is this week’s spotlight on Contamination OCD:

Contamination OCD is characterized by recurrent and persistent intrusive (unwanted) thoughts, urges or images about people/places/things being contaminated or dirty along with compulsive, repetitive behaviors or mental acts aimed at reducing anxiety/distress or preventing a feared outcome from happening, all of which cause distress and impairment in functioning.

Common obsessions:

-Fear of coming into contact with asbestos, toxic waste, cleansers/bleach, pesticides

-Fear of feeling contaminated forever

-Fear of spreading contamination

-Fear of spreading emotional contamination

-Fear of coming into contact with dirt/germs

-Fear of coming into contact with bodily fluids (blood, semen, saliva, feces)

-Fear of contracting an STD or illness (also see future spotlight on health anxiety)

-Fear that someone put animal products in your vegan food, your lettuce has E.Coli, chicken contaminated other food

-Fear of chemicals getting into your body

Common Core Fears:

-Death of self or others

-Causing irreversible harm to self or others, being a bad person

-Disgust just feels intolerable, like it won’t go away or it will ruin whatever you try to do next

-Fear of being judged/rejected, ending up alone

Common compulsions:

-Ruminating about coming into contact with contaminant

-Researching contaminant

-Planning out the day to prevent coming into contact with/spreading contaminant

-Excessive and/or ritualized hand-washing, showering/bathing

-Using barriers (gloves, paper towels)

-Avoidance behaviors (avoiding touching/using certain things at certain times, avoiding certain people or places)

-Excessive and/or ritualized cleaning

-Tracking contamination spreading

-Avoiding cleaning because it takes so long/fear of getting stuck/fear of contamination

Common things that individuals with contamination OCD struggle with:

-Taking out the trash

-Touching the floor

-Using public restrooms, public transportation

-Allowing other people in their space, especially at home/in bed



-Having different levels of contamination and different spaces that are contaminated or not


-Winter jackets/hats

-Going to the doctor, hospital, fertility clinic

-Anger with loved ones, especially those in the same home

-Getting vaccines/taking medication

-Sharing personal items with others

**Please note: themes help us get more information out to individuals suffering with OCD, but anything can become obsessive and/or compulsive and themes can overlap. It’s also important to remember that the content of OCD is not important, it’s all the same mechanisms responding to different triggers. We recommend working with a therapist trained in ERP.

Stay Brave! -The OCD MN Team