Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is characterized by obsessive thoughts and/or compulsive behaviors. Obsessive thoughts are generally characterized as unwanted, intrusive, repetitive, distressing, and persistent thoughts that stay “stuck” and can cause urges for compulsive behaviors in efforts to decrease the distress associated with obsessions. Compulsive behaviors are repetitive, ritualistic behaviors that individuals feel compelled to do to decrease distress or prevent something bad from happening, even if behaviors are not necessarily related to the feared outcome. Compulsive behaviors can alleviate some distress immediately, but they reinforce obsessive thoughts and/or feared outcomes and keep the cycle of anxiety thriving in OCD.

OCD can manifest in a variety of ways. The following are some of the types of OCD we treat at our clinic.

Note: These are common OCD themes, however OCD can essentially attach to anything as an obsession and create limitless compulsions. If you are unsure if your symptoms are OCD, we can help you with that.

Types of OCD

Common Obsessions: Fear of bodily waste or fluids, germs, chemicals, or other “contaminants”

Common Compulsions: Washing hands ritually or excessively, cleaning, decontaminating, avoiding, reassurance-seeking, researching/Googling

Common Obsessions: Excessive doubt about loving a partner “enough,” excessive concern with quality of relationships, intrusive thoughts about being in the wrong relationship

Common Compulsions: Checking emotions, comparing feelings with partner with feelings with someone else, tracking time spent with friends, ruminating, rigid rules about friendships, mental reviewing/replaying

Common Obsessions: Fear of being sexually attracted to children, fear of being a pedophile, intrusive thoughts and images about children

Common Compulsions: Avoiding children, checking feelings and sensations to see if attracted to children, compulsively ruminating or reviewing behavior, thoughts, or feelings around children

Common Obsessions: Fear of being in denial about sexual orientation or changing sexual orientation, intrusive thoughts relating to sexual orientation

Common Compulsions: Checking for feelings or sensations in triggering situations, avoiding triggering situations, ruminating about sexual themes, mentally reviewing past behavior or situations, comparing self to others with same/opposite sexual orientation, researching, confessing

Common Obsessions: Unwanted sexual intrusive thoughts, often taboo in content

Common Compulsions: Excessive rumination, compulsions trying to get rid of unwanted thoughts, checking feelings and sensations, confessing

Common Obsessions: Fear of violently harming self or others, fear of losing control and causing harm, violent intrusive thoughts

Common Compulsions: Avoidance of triggering objects (e.g. knives), avoidance of triggering media, ruminating, checking violent intrusive thoughts, checking environment for things that may cause harm, avoiding triggering environments or situations, confessing

Common Obsessions: Excessive fear about one’s health or mortality, fear of having or getting an illness (e.g. cancer, Parkinson’s Disease)

Common Compulsions: Excessive checking or scanning one’s body for symptoms, excessive google searching or researching about feared illnesses or symptoms, excessive reassurance-seeking or avoidance of medical professionals/procedures, excessive medical appointments/testing

Common Obsessions: Excessive fear about being responsible for something terrible happening (fire, burglary, motor vehicle accident, a loved one’s death, etc) even if actions are not directly related to the terrible consequence

Common Compulsions: Excessive checking (rearview mirror, driving in circles, locks, stove, appliances), reassurance-seeking/asking others to make sure nothing terrible happened, watching the news, looking up warrants for arrest, avoidance of driving/cooking/saying/doing certain things

Common Obsessions: Excessive concern with things being perfect or exact, intolerance of imperfection, needing things to be in a certain place/look a certain way

Common Compulsions: Re-reading, re-writing, rearranging, re-organizing, spending hours on an assignment/project that took others significantly less time, avoidance of writing/reading/projects, throwing things away that aren’t perfect

Common Obsessions: Fear of being sinful or blasphemous, intrusive thoughts surrounding religion or religious figures/deities, fear of not being perfectly religious

Common Compulsions: Obsessive praying, rumination on religious behavior, trying to be perfectly “religious”, excessive research on religious concepts, excessively rigid rules about religion

Common Obsessions: Fear of being immoral or morally imperfect, fear of not being perfectly truthful or honest, fear of having acted immorally in the past or being accused of acting immorally in the future

Common Compulsions: Excessive rumination and mental reviewing of thoughts, actions, and behaviors relating to morality, excessive attention to moral issues and behavior, reassurance-seeking about moral issues

Common Obsessions:  Unwanted taboo, sexual, or violent intrusive thoughts or mental images relating to infant, fear of causing harming to infant, fear of harm or something bad happening to infant, fear of losing control

Common Compulsions: Hypervigilance in protecting infant, excessively checking infant, avoiding baby for fear of harming, asking for reassurance, monitoring self for unwanted feelings, sensations, or thoughts

Common Obsessions: Fear of not being able to stop excessive awareness of external stimuli or normal bodily functions such as blinking, breathing, heart rate, eye floaters in vision, salivating, or other involuntary/semi-voluntary behaviors

Common Compulsions: Checking for awareness, excessive distraction from triggers, rumination over whether awareness will ever go away, reassurance-seeking about symptoms or about what is normal

Other Anxiety-Related Disorders

Common Symptoms: Excessive worry about a variety of situations and in a variety of contexts, difficulty controlling the worry, restlessness, fatigue, muscle tension, difficulty concentrating/mind going blank, irritability, sleep disturbance

Common Symptoms: Excessive fear about social situations, fear of negative judgments from others, avoidance of social situations or intense distress when in social situations, inward focus in social situations

Common Symptoms: Excessive fear about a specific situation/object that is out of proportion to the actual threat, common phobias include blood/needle/injection, vomit, spiders, dogs, heights, storms, water, airplanes, elevators/enclosed spaces

Common Symptoms: abrupt surges of fear characterized by pounding heart, sweating, shaking, shortness of breath, feelings of choking, chest pain, nausea or abdominal distress, feeling dizzy/unsteady/light-headed, chills/heat sensations, numbness/tingling, feelings of unreality or being detached from oneself, fear of losing control, fear of dying. Persistent fear of having another panic attack and/or maladaptive behavioral changes after a panic attack

Common Symptoms: Excessive fear of using public transportation, being in open spaces, being in enclosed spaces, standing in line or being in a crowd, and/or being outside of the home alone, avoidance of those situations which provoke excessive fear because escaping may be difficult or help may not be available or tolerance of situations only with a “safe” person or with intense distress

Common Symptoms: Excessive need to be perfect or flawless in appearance, writing, working, schoolwork, etc, intolerance of mistakes or imperfections, spending an excessive amount of time on things to make them perfect, always feeling you can do better, persistent fear of failure

Selective mutism is a childhood anxiety disorder characterized by a consistent inability to speak in specific social situations despite speaking in other settings. It usually begins in early childhood and can affect a child’s social interactions and development.

Common Symptoms: Inability to speak, limited verbal communication, excessive shyness or anxiety, freezing or clinging, delayed speech development, social isolation, avoidance behavior, physical symptoms, perfectionism

Common Symptoms: Excessive preoccupation with perceived bodily defects that others do not observe, excessive mirror checking, excessive grooming, excessive comparisons, skin-picking, reassurance-seeking from others, avoidance of social events/leaving the house unless looking “perfect”

Common Symptoms: Excessive hair-pulling (head, arm, pubic area, eyebrows, etc) that may lead to bald spots, unsuccessful attempts to stop hair-pulling

Common Symptoms: Excessive skin-picking that can result in lesions on the skin, unsuccessful attempts to stop skin-picking

Common Symptoms: Excessive fear/negative emotions associated with getting rid of items regardless of value, perceived need to save things, excessive clutter in the home that compromises the intended use of the home (or the home is uncluttered due to a third party intervening), sometimes with excessive acquisition or feeling the need to buy more things