Fear of causing harm to yourself or others.
Intrusive sexually explicit or violent thoughts and images.
Excessive focus on religious or moral ideas.
Fear of losing or not having things you might need.
Order and symmetry: the idea that everything must line up “just right.”
Superstitions; excessive attention to something considered lucky or unlucky.
OCD signs and symptoms: Compulsive behaviors
Common compulsive behaviors in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) include:
Excessive double-checking of things, such as locks, appliances, and switches.
Repeatedly checking in on loved ones to make sure they’re safe.
Counting, tapping, repeating certain words, or doing other senseless things to reduce anxiety.
Spending a lot of time washing or cleaning.
Ordering or arranging things “just so.”
Praying excessively or engaging in rituals triggered by religious fear.
Accumulating “junk” such as old newspapers or empty food containers.
Hoarding and other disorders
The compulsive behavior of hoarding—collecting and keeping things with little or no use or value—is a common symptom of people with OCD, even if the problem may not be severe. However, people with hoarding symptoms are more likely to also be suffering from other disorders, such as depression, PTSD, a specific phobia, skin picking, kleptomania, ADHD, tic disorders, or compulsive buying.
If you or a loved one has OCD, tell your doctor about any symptoms of hoarding, difficulty discarding junk, or obsessing about losing things.
Source: Journal of Psychiatric Research
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) symptoms in children
While the onset of obsessive-compulsive disorder usually occurs during adolescence or young adulthood, younger children sometimes have symptoms that look like OCD. However, the symptoms of other disorders, such as ADD, autism, and Tourette’s syndrome, can also look like obsessive-compulsive disorder, so a thorough medical and psychological exam is essential before any diagnosis.
Exposure and response prevention involves repeated exposure to the source of your obsession. Then you are asked to refrain from the compulsive behavior you’d usually perform to reduce your anxiety. For example, if you are a compulsive hand washer, you might be asked to touch the door handle in a public restroom and then be prevented from washing. As you sit with the anxiety, the urge to wash your hands will gradually begin to go away on its own. In this way, you learn that you don’t need the ritual to get rid of your anxiety—that you have some control over your obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors.
Cognitive therapy focuses on the catastrophic thoughts and exaggerated sense of responsibility you feel. A big part of cognitive therapy for OCD is teaching you healthy and effective ways of responding to obsessive thoughts, without resorting to compulsive behavior.
Four Steps for Conquering Symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Psychiatrist Jeffrey Schwartz, author of Brain Lock: Free Yourself from Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior, offers the following four steps for dealing with OCD:
RELABEL – Recognize that the intrusive obsessive thoughts and urges are the result of OCD. For example, train yourself to say, "I don't think or feel that my hands are dirty. I'm having an obsession that my hands are dirty." Or, "I don't feel that I have the need to wash my hands. I'm having a compulsive urge to perform the compulsion of washing my hands."
REATTRIBUTE – Realize that the intensity and intrusiveness of the thought or urge is caused by OCD; it is probably related to a biochemical imbalance in the brain. Tell yourself, "It's not me—it’s my OCD," to remind you that OCD thoughts and urges are not meaningful, but are false messages from the brain.
REFOCUS – Work around the OCD thoughts by focusing your attention on something else, at least for a few minutes. Do