OCD can be divided into different types based on the nature of the symptoms experienced. Some of these symptoms appear to be relatively stable over time, while some may develop later on. Some symptoms are typical to a particular subtype, but it is not uncommon to experience symptoms of other subtypes at the same time.
Contamination Obsessions with Cleaning and Washing Compulsions
This is often associated with discomfort arising from contamination and recurrent images of dirty hands or fear of germs. You may find yourself washing your hands or cleaning something excessively.
For example, one might feel that their hands are dirty or contaminated after touching a doorknob or worry that they will contaminate others with their germs.
Obsessions of Harm with Checking Compulsions
Individuals with this subtype often experience intense thoughts related to possible harm to themselves or others around them. They often use checking behaviors to reduce distress.
For example, one might imagine their house burning down and then repeatedly drive by their house to make sure that there is no fire.
Symmetry Obsessions with Compulsions of Order and Arrangement
Individuals with this subtype find the need to rearrange objects until they are “just right”. This symptom subtype can also involve thinking or saying sentences or words over and over again until the task is accomplished perfectly. Sometimes these ordering, arranging, and counting compulsions are carried out to ward off potential danger.
For example, one might think, “If I arrange my desk perfectly, my husband won’t die in a car accident.”
Hoarding is often accompanied by obsessional fears of losing items that may be needed one day and excessive emotional attachment to objects. People affected by the hoarding symptom subtype will tend to experience higher anxiety and depression than people with other subtypes.
Obsessions without visible Compulsions
This subtype often relates to unwanted obsessions around themes of religion, aggression, and sex. For example, one could experience intrusive thoughts about being a rapist or that they will attack someone.
Compulsions here are performed mentally, such as reciting particular words, counting in your head, or praying to relieve the anxiety you experience when you have these involuntary thoughts.
Tips for Coping with OCD
OCD, if left untreated, only increases in severity and can lead to life-damaging results that affect every aspect of the individual’s lifestyle. While not completely curable, there are certain tips that might help in reducing symptom severity.