OCD Attacks: Signs, Causes, Impacts and Treatment

OCD Attacks: Signs, Causes, Impacts and Treatment Options

OCD stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and it is an anxiety disorder that affects millions of people around the world. Those with OCD experience intense obsessions and compulsions that can cause tremendous distress and interfere with their daily lives. One challenging symptom of OCD is an “attack” or “intrusive thoughts”. The attack can refer to both the intensity of the obsessive thoughts, as well as the physical sensation of panic or fear that accompanies them. This article will discuss in detail what these attacks are like and how to best deal with them.

What Are OCD Attacks?

An OCD attack is a sudden, intense surge of anxiety and obsessive thoughts. These attacks can be so overwhelming that they interfere with your daily life. OCD attacks are often triggered by specific events or situations, such as exposure to germs, seeing someone else perform a compulsion, or leaving the house.

The physical symptoms of an OCD attack can include a racing heart, sweaty palms, a tight chest, and feelings of dread or panic. The obsessive thoughts associated with OCD attacks are often accompanied by strong urges to perform certain compulsive behaviors in order to reduce anxiety and fear. These behaviors can include hand washing, checking things multiple times, counting, or repeating words or phrases.

Types of OCD Attacks

There are different types of OCD attacks, and they can vary in intensity and duration. The four main types of OCD attacks are:

1. Obsessions: These are unwanted, intrusive thoughts that cause anxiety and distress. Obsessions can be about anything, including contamination, harm, or perfectionism. People with OCD often try to suppress or neutralize their obsessions with compulsions (see below).

2. Compulsions: These are repetitive behaviors or mental rituals that people with OCD use in an attempt to reduce anxiety or prevent something bad from happening. Common compulsions include hand-washing, counting, checking, and ordering/arranging objects.

3. Anxiety/Distress: This type of OCD attack is characterized by high levels of anxiety and distress. People may feel like they’re going crazy or that they’re going to die. They may also have physical symptoms like a racing heart, shortness of breath, sweating, and nausea.

4. Avoidance: People with OCD may avoid certain situations or objects that trigger their obsessions or increase their anxiety levels. For example, someone with a fear of contamination may avoid public places or touching doorknobs. This type of OCD attack can be disabling, as it prevents people from leading normal life.

Signs of OCD Attacks

When someone experiences an OCD attack, it can be a very frightening experience. There are a number of different signs and symptoms that may be experienced during an OCD attack, and these can vary from person to person. Some of the more common signs and symptoms include:

Intrusive Thoughts

One of the main signs of an OCD attack is intrusive thoughts. These are unwanted, repetitive thoughts that can be related to anything from harm to contamination. People with OCD may experience a variety of different types of intrusive thoughts, and these can range in intensity from mild to severe.


Another sign of an OCD attack is the urge to perform certain compulsive behaviors or rituals in order to reduce anxiety or prevent something bad from happening. Compulsions can include hand-washing, counting, checking things multiple times, repeating words or phrases, or ordering/arranging objects.

Anxiety and Distress

High levels of anxiety and distress are other common signs of an OCD attack. During an attack, people may feel like they’re going crazy or that they’re going to die. They may also experience physical symptoms like a racing heart, shortness of breath, sweating, and nausea.


Finally, people with OCD may avoid certain situations or objects that trigger their obsessions or increase their anxiety levels. This type of OCD attack can be disabling, as it prevents people from leading normal life.

Feeling overwhelmed and helpless are other signs of an OCD attack. People may feel like they can’t escape from obsessive thoughts, or that they have no control over their behavior. They may also feel isolated and alone.

Reasons For OCD Attacks

There are many different reasons that people with OCD may have attacks. Some common reasons include:


One of the main reasons people have OCD attacks is due to certain triggers. Triggers can be anything that sets off obsessions or causes feelings of anxiety and distress. Common triggers include:

Stress: One of the most common triggers for OCD attacks is stress. People with OCD may become overwhelmed or overly anxious when faced with stressful situations.

Trauma: Traumatic experiences, such as a death in the family or a traumatic event, can also trigger an OCD attack.

Hormonal Changes: Changes in hormones, such as during puberty or pregnancy, can also be a trigger for an OCD attack.

Low Self-Esteem: Low self-esteem can cause someone to feel like they’re not good enough or that they don’t measure up to others, which can increase anxiety and lead to an OCD attack.

Biological Factors

One of the main causes of OCD is believed to be a combination of genetic and biological factors. It’s thought that some people may be more prone to developing OCD due to their genetics or brain chemistry. Certain medications or medical conditions can also trigger OCD attacks.

Constant Stress

Finally, people who are constantly stressed out or living in an environment of chaos may be more likely to experience OCD attacks. This is because stress can increase anxiety levels and make it difficult for someone to cope with their obsessions or compulsions. These individuals may be more likely to become overwhelmed or feel helpless in their attempts to manage their OCD.

What To Do If You Have OCD Attacks?

There are a few things that you can do to help ease the symptoms of an OCD attack.

  • First, try to stay calm and relaxed. It may be helpful to close your eyes and take slow, deep breaths.
  • Secondly, you can try to distract yourself from the thoughts or urges that are causing you distress. This could involve listening to music, reading a book, or talking to a friend.
  • Thirdly, you can challenge the thoughts or beliefs that are causing you anxiety. For example, if you are obsessing over whether or not you locked the door, try to rationalize with yourself by thinking about all of the times when you have locked the door without any problems.

Treatment for OCD Attacks

In order to effectively treat OCD attacks, it’s important to seek help from a mental health professional. Some of the treatment methods for OCD include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), exposure and response prevention (ERP), and medication.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

One of the most effective treatments for OCD is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). This form of psychotherapy works to change the thought patterns and behaviors associated with OCD. The goal is to help people identify and challenge their negative thoughts and replace them with more positive, realistic ones. Also, by engaging in certain activities or exposures, individuals can learn to control their reactions and responses to things that trigger their OCD.

Exposure and Response Prevention

Exposure and response prevention (ERP) is another form of psychotherapy that is often used to treat people with OCD. It involves gradually exposing the person to situations or triggers that cause distress and helping them manage those feelings without resorting to compulsions.

Exposure therapy works by slowly exposing the person to situations that cause anxiety and teaching them how to cope with the feelings without engaging in compulsive behaviors.


Medication can be used in conjunction with therapy to help reduce symptoms of OCD. Commonly prescribed medications include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs). These medications work by changing the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, which can help reduce obsessive thoughts and compulsions. These medications may need to be taken on a regular basis in order for them to be effective.

Lifestyle Changes

One of the best ways to manage OCD is to make lifestyle changes that can reduce stress and improve overall well-being. This includes getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and avoiding drugs and alcohol. It’s also important to practice relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation in order to manage anxiety levels.

By following these steps, individuals can learn to cope with their OCD symptoms and reduce the likelihood of having an OCD attack.


OCD attacks can be incredibly distressing, but understanding them and knowing the steps to take to manage them can help alleviate some of the fear associated with experiencing an attack. Learning about this type of anxiety disorder is a critical first step for anyone who suspects they may be prone to OCD attacks or just wants more information on how to cope with them.

By recognizing symptoms and triggers, educating yourself on management techniques, creating a support system, and seeking professional treatment when needed, you will be able to better manage your OCD attacks and live a healthier life.

For more information and guidance, please contact MantraCare. OCD is a mental health disorder characterized by obsessions and compulsions. If you have any queries regarding Online OCD Counseling experienced therapists at MantraCare can help: Book a trial OCD therapy session

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