Obsessive Compulsive Disorder : How to check if you have OCD?


OCD is characterized by a pattern of unpleasant thoughts and anxieties (obsessions) that cause you to engage in repetitive actions (compulsions). Everyday activities are severely disrupted and made uncomfortable by these obsessive thoughts and actions.

You could make an effort to suppress or dismiss your obsessions, but doing so simply makes you feel more upset and anxious. In the end, you get compelled to engage in obsessive behaviors in an effort to reduce your stress. Unwanted ideas or urges persist despite efforts to deny or ignore them. This feeds the OCD cycle, which results in more ritualistic behavior.

OCD typically centers on certain themes, such as an obsessional dread of catching a cold. You may wash your hands excessively until they are painful and chapped in an effort to allay your anxieties about infection.

When you have OCD, you can feel embarrassed and humiliated about the problem, but there are excellent treatments available.


The exact etiology of obsessive-compulsive disorder is unknown. The principal hypotheses are:

Biology. OCD might develop as a result of adjustments to your body's natural chemistry or how your brain works.

Genetics. OCD could have a genetic component, even if specific genes have not yet been identified.

Learning. It is possible to pick up obsessive phobias and compulsive habits over time or by observing family members.

How to check if you have OCD?

There is a distinction between having OCD and being a perfectionist, such as someone who demands faultless performance or outcomes. OCD thoughts go beyond excessive worry about actual issues in your life or a preference for order or cleanliness.

If your obsessions and compulsions are negatively affecting your quality of life, speak with a medical or mental health professional.

Risk Factors

Obsessive-compulsive disorder may be brought on by or develop as a result of a number of factors, which include:

Family background. You run a higher chance of getting OCD if your parents or other family members do.

Stressful circumstances. Your risk may rise if you have gone through traumatic or stressful experiences. This response could, for whatever reason, cause the intrusive thoughts, rituals, and emotional distress that define OCD.

Other illnesses of the mind. OCD and other mental diseases, such as tic disorders, anxiety disorders, depression, and substance abuse, may coexist.


Patients with the obsessive-compulsive disorder typically have obsessions and compulsions. However, it is also possible to merely have obsessive or compulsive symptoms. Whether or not they are severe or unreasonable, your obsessions and compulsions take up a lot of your time and keep you from going about your daily activities and performing in social, academic, or professional contexts.

Addiction signs

OCD obsessions are stressful or worrisome intrusive, repetitive, unwanted thoughts, urges, or images. You could try to avoid them or get rid of them by engaging in a routine or obsessive habit. Usually, these obsessions make it difficult for you to think effectively or do other duties.

Obsessions frequently have underlying themes, such as:

  • Fear of filth or contamination 
  • Doubt and having trouble accepting ambiguity
  • Requiring symmetry and order in everything
  • Ideas of losing control and harming oneself or others that are violent or terrifying
  • Unwelcome concepts, such as those that are aggressive or address concerns of religion or sexuality

Signs and symptoms of obsessive examples include:

  • Fear of becoming ill after handling objects that have been touched by others
  • Questions about whether you properly closed the door or switched off the stove
  • When things are not in order or facing the right way, it causes a lot of tension.
  • Unpleasant sexual imagery or ideas of behaving badly in public or yelling obscenities
  • Avoiding situations that can trigger obsessions, such as shaking hands

Signs of compulsion

Compulsions are recurrent activities that you feel compelled to carry out if you have OCD. These frequent actions or activities aim to lessen anxiousness caused by your obsessions or a desire to stop something unpleasant. Participating in the compulsions, however, is unpleasant and could only temporarily reduce anxiety.

When you are experiencing obsessive thoughts, you can create rules or routines that you must adhere to in order to manage your anxiety. These obsessions are excessive and frequently have no connection to the issue they are meant to solve.

Similar to obsessions, compulsions typically include recurring motifs, such as:

  • Cleaning and washing
  • Checking
  • Counting
  • Orderliness
  • Maintaining a rigorous schedule
  • Requesting assurance

Compulsion symptoms and indicators examples include:

  • Scrubbing your hands until they are raw
  • Repeatedly ensuring that the doors are locked
  • Repeatedly ensuring that the stove is off
  • Using certain patterns to count
  • Silently saying a prayer, phrase, or another phrase
  • Place all of your canned goods facing the same way.

Intensity varies.

OCD can begin in childhood, although it usually becomes apparent in adolescence or early adulthood. The onset of symptoms is often gradual, and their intensity tends to change with time. You may encounter different kinds of obsessions and compulsions throughout time. Generally speaking, symptoms worsen as stress levels increase. OCD symptoms can range from mild to moderate to acute and time-consuming to the point of incapacitating. OCD is often seen as a chronic illness.


The condition of obsessive-compulsive disorder cannot be completely avoided. However, seeking therapy as soon as possible may help stop OCD from growing worse and interfering with everyday tasks.


Treatment for the obsessive-compulsive disorder may not provide a cure, but it can help keep symptoms under control so they do not interfere with your everyday life. Some patients may require long-term, continuous, or more extensive therapy depending on how severe their OCD is.

Psychotherapy and medicines are the two basic OCD therapies. Often, combining these results in the most beneficial treatments.


For many OCD sufferers, cognitive behavioral treatment (CBT), a kind of psychotherapy, is successful. As part of CBT therapy, exposure and response prevention (ERP) entails progressively exposing you to a feared item or fixation, like dirt, and teaching you how to manage the temptation to carry out your obsessive rituals. ERP requires work and skill, but you might benefit from a better life after you learn to control your compulsive behaviors.


The obsessions and compulsions of OCD can be controlled with the aid of certain psychiatric drugs. Antidepressants are often used initially.

  • Anafranil (clomipramine) for both adults and kids 10 years or more
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac) for both children and adults 7 years or more
  • Fluvoxamine for both children and adults 8 years old and up
  • Paxil, Pexeva, and paroxetine are solely for adults.
  • Sertraline (Zoloft) is recommended for adults and kids ages 6 and older.

However, your doctor could also recommend psychiatric drugs and other antidepressants.

Medication: Things to think about

Discuss the following points with your doctor before choosing an OCD medication:

  • Selecting a treatment. Generally, the objective is to successfully manage symptoms at the lowest dosage feasible. It is common to test a number of medications before settling on one that works well. To successfully treat your symptoms, your doctor may suggest using many medications. After using a drug for a while, symptoms may not start to get better for weeks or even months.
  • Adverse consequences. All psychiatric drugs may cause negative effects. When using psychiatric medications, discuss any potential side effects and the need for health monitoring with your doctor. Also, let your doctor know if any unsettling side symptoms occur.
  • Suicide danger. The majority of antidepressants are largely safe. Children, adolescents, and young adults under 25 may occasionally experience when using antidepressants, especially in the first few weeks or when the dose is altered, an increase in suicidal thoughts or actions. Call your doctor immediately away if you are having suicide thoughts, or get emergency help. Remember that antidepressants are more likely to decrease the risk of suicide over time through elevating mood.
  • Interactions between different chemicals. Inform your doctor if you use any other prescription or OTC drugs, herbal supplements, or other dietary supplements while taking an antidepressant. When coupled with specific drugs or herbal supplements, some antidepressants can reduce the efficacy of other medications and have potentially harmful side effects.
  • Antidepressants are stopped. Although physical dependence—a separate condition from addiction—can occasionally happen with antidepressants, they are not thought to be addictive. Therefore, suddenly quitting medication or skipping numerous doses might create symptoms like withdrawal, often known as discontinuation syndrome. Even if you feel better, do not stop taking your medicine without first consulting your doctor. Otherwise, you risk experiencing a resurgence of OCD symptoms. To safely and gradually reduce your dosage, consult your doctor.

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of utilizing particular drugs with your doctor.

Other therapies

Psychotherapy and drugs may not always be sufficient to treat OCD symptoms. Other methods might be provided in instances that are resistant to treatment:

  • Programmes for intensive outpatient and inpatient therapy. People with OCD who struggle to function due to the intensity of their symptoms may benefit from comprehensive treatment programmes that stress ERP therapy concepts. These courses usually last for several weeks.

Complications of OCD

There are several problems that obsessive-compulsive disorder can lead to, including:

  • An excessive amount of time spent doing ceremonial actions
  • Difficulties with one's health, such as contact dermatitis from excessive hand washing
  • Attending job, school, or social events with difficulty
  • Conflicting connections
  • The poor overall quality of life
  • Suicidal ideas and actions


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Page last reviewed: Mar 20, 2023

Next review due: Mar 20, 2025

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