What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

We may have heard many different stories about Obsessive-Compulsive disorder. This mental health condition is defined as an obsession, repetitive thoughts and distressing actions. People who suffer from this mental health condition can have difficulty in carrying out routine tasks. In this article, you will learn more about the different types, what they can lead to and some of the known ways to treat this mental health condition.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Types

This mental health condition can affect a person in a number of ways. These include:

A great concern with checking

Someone who may be suffering from this condition may have an urge to consistently check if anything has gone wrong. An example of this might include:

Repeatedly checking:

  • Door locks
  • House lights
  • Checking taps
  • Windows closed
  • Checking their body for signs of illness
  • Repeatedly checking communication such as WhatsApp messages or emails for fear of offending the recipient

Fears of contamination

A person with OCD may have an overwhelming need to wash on a continuous basis. This is out of fear that objects that they have touched are contaminated.

This often leads to:

  • Repeatedly cleaning the bathroom, kitchen, and other rooms avoiding crowds for fear of contracting germs.
  • With this kind of mental health condition, a person may have an obsession with washing after an encounter where they felt mistreated and criticized.


This is a disorder that is associated with the difficulty to part with possessions. An individual who battles with hoarding disorder undergoes anxiety and distress at the thought of letting go of items.

Invasive thoughts

When a person feels like they are unable to prevent thoughts that are unwanted repeatedly. These are thoughts that could involve self-harm and violence.

It is unlikely that the person will actually pursue the violence or self-harm but they cause intense distress.

Orderliness & Symmetry

This type of OCD makes the person feel the need to arrange objects in a certain way to avoid self-discomfort or harm.

You may find a person repeatedly rearrange the books on a shelf, for example.


Learn more about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder can be treated. However, the correct approach is dependent on the symptoms and severity which have been diagnosed by a medical professional.

Cognitive behavioural therapy

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that can help a person change the way they feel, think and behave.

According to MentalHelp.net, it may involve two different treatments: Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) and Cognitive Therapy.

Exposure and Response Prevention involves:

Exposure: This exposes the person to situations and objects that trigger fear and anxiety. Over time, through a process called habituation, repeated exposure leads to a decrease or disappearance of anxiety.

Response: This teaches the person to resist performing compulsive behaviours.

Cognitive therapy starts by encouraging the person to identify and reevaluate their beliefs about the consequences of engaging or refraining from engaging in compulsive behaviour.

Learn more about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)