Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is known to affect individuals in different ways. While the symptoms may be similar no matter who you are and what your personal struggles are, there are a variety of subtypes of OCD that people tend to experience. There are over 20 different types of OCD, each with their own specific set of symptoms. Some types of obsessive compulsive disorder are more common than others because they present themselves in specific areas of life. For example, someone who experiences germophobia will have a very different type of diagnostic criteria than someone who has hoarding tendencies or another form of OCD. Each case is different and while some people might have one particular type over the other, we can’t label them as “more or less” based on their diagnosis alone. Here are 7 types of OCD that you should know about.
What is OCD?
OCD is an anxiety disorder that is highly treatable. People with OCD experience an excessive amount of anxiety and worry over situations that are unrealistic; these thoughts and feelings cause the person to feel out of control. OCD is often misunderstood because it looks different in each person. People with OCD are not “just clean” or “just really organized”. OCD is a mental health issue that affects brain activity and the way a person thinks. OCD is treated with therapy and medication. The most effective therapy for OCD is a type of cognitive behavioural therapy called Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). Medication can also be helpful for some people with OCD. OCD affects about 1 in 20 people in their lifetime. The average age of onset is 19 years old. OCD is more common in teens and young adults.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder
Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is an obsessive compulsive disorder that affects the person’s perception of their physical appearance. It is sometimes referred to as “imagined ugliness” or “imagined disfigurement”. People with BDD have an extreme preoccupation with a perceived flaw in their appearance. They may have a distorted view of how they look, thinking that they have a serious defect, such as scarring or disfigurement, even though others don’t notice the problem. A person with BDD might worry about their skin, hair, nose, teeth, or weight, or about other aspects of their appearance. BDD can affect people of all ages, although it is more common in young adults. People with BDD often have other mental disorders, such as anxiety or depression, as well as high rates of suicidal thoughts.
Scrupulosity is an obsessive compulsive disorder that is related to religious or moral beliefs. Scrupulosity is often referred to as “religious OCD”, or “moral OCD”. It is defined as the excessive fear of doing something wrong, or breaking a religious or moral code that is often accompanied by compulsive behaviours. Someone with scrupulosity will have intrusive thoughts related to what they find morally wrong, and they may have fears that they have committed some type of sin or religious transgression. Scrupulosity is often associated with religious practices and, in some cases, sub-clinical scrupulosity is present in people who are not religious or who do not have particular moral beliefs.
Obsessions with Harm or Dishonesty
This subtype of obsessive compulsive disorder is often seen in people who have OCD with a tic disorder, such as Tourette’s syndrome. People with these types of obsessions may worry about having hurt someone, having stolen something without remembering, or having committed some other type of “awful” act. They might have thoughts, urges, and impulses that are associated with guilt and shame, even though there is no reason to feel that way. Some people with OCD experience obsessions with dishonesty, such as the fear that they have given incorrect information to someone. They may worry excessively about making careless mistakes. People with obsessions about dishonesty often have trouble completing tasks, such as reading because they are afraid to misread something and therefore say something false.
Obsessions with Mistakes and Excessive Behavioural Controls
This obsession may be linked to OCD with scrupulosity, where people feel compelled to correct themselves for any “immoral” actions, thoughts, or words. It involves an excessive amount of effort to prevent making a mistake. People with OCD who have these types of obsessions might feel that they constantly have to check and redo things to make sure they are done correctly. They might spend hours reviewing information to make sure they have covered all the bases and can remember everything they need to know. People with OCD who have excessive behavioural controls might have trouble leaving their homes and have extreme anxiety about engaging in social situations. They may be afraid to meet new people, go to new places, or spend time with friends or family members out of fear they might do something “wrong” or make a mistake.
Ocd and Hoarding Behaviours
These types of OCD are often tied to obsessive compulsive hoarding. People with these types of obsessions often feel like they have to keep things that may be unnecessary. They might worry that they might need something and not have it, or feel like they have to keep something because they paid for it. Some people with OCD who have hoarding behaviours struggle with feelings of disgust towards their own possessions, including the items they keep. They might be afraid that something is “contaminated” or that someone will be harmed by their belongings.
Sd and Vcd (Shared Features)
Somatic disorders and Visceral compulsive disorders (VCDs) may overlap with some of the symptoms of OCD. People with OCD may experience these types of symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, feeling of unease, and other types of physical discomfort. They may have a fear that something bad will happen or they may feel they have to perform certain behaviours in response to their physical symptoms. Some people with OCD might have unwanted thoughts about hurting themselves or others. Thoughts of harming oneself may occur with or without a plan for how to carry them out. Thoughts about killing others are rare in OCD and are more often seen in a related condition called “OCD associated with aggression”.
OCD With Comorbidity (ODC) and Other Conditions
Comorbidity is the term used when a person has more than one mental health disorder at the same time. It is estimated that about 50% of people with OCD have another mental health condition. Some of the most common conditions that occur with OCD include depression, anxiety disorders, and tic disorders. Many people with OCD are not properly diagnosed or treated because OCD is not recognized as a distinct disorder by many medical professionals. If a person has anxiety, they may receive a diagnosis of anxiety disorder and be prescribed anti-anxiety medication. If a person worries excessively about germs and contamination, they may be diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder and given an anti-obsessional medication.
OCD is a common but treatable condition. OCD is often treated with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and medication. CBT aims to reduce the severity of OCD symptoms by changing how a person thinks about them using two steps: exposure and response prevention. Exposure involves confronting your fears by doing things that you usually avoid. Response prevention involves resisting the urge to do things that reduce your anxiety. If you think you may suffer from OCD, remember that it is normal to worry about certain things. However, if the level of worry is above and beyond what most people experience, or if you feel it is interfering with your daily life, you may want to seek professional help. Early intervention and treatment can help reduce the severity of OCD symptoms or even prevent them from worsening.