What Is OCD? – Symptoms, Causes, Types, And Treatment

If you have ever been told that you are “OCD” about something, then you know just how frustrating it can be. But what does OCD actually stand for? And what are the symptoms, causes, and types of OCD? In this blog post, we will answer all of these questions and more!

What Is (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) OCD?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, also known as OCD, is an anxiety disorder in which people have recurrent and persistent thoughts, feelings, ideas, or sensations (obsessions) that make them feel driven to perform certain behaviors or rituals (compulsions).

These obsessions and compulsions interfere with daily life and can cause significant distress. People in this condition may also struggle with depression, eating disorders, and other mental health problems. It is important to remember that OCD is treatable and many people who have it are able to lead happy productive lives.

What Are The Signs Of OCD?

Signs Of OCD

The signs or symptoms include obsessions and compulsion. Obsessions are intrusive, recurrent thoughts or images that cause distress. These thoughts are often irrational, such as the fear of contamination or the need to count things. Compulsions are repetitive behaviors or rituals that a person feels driven to do in order to alleviate anxiety.

Obsessions Symptoms In OCD

Such obsessions are recurring and persistent thoughts, images, or impulses that cause anxiety in the person. These obsessions can be irrational and intrusive and may include:

  • Excessive worrying about harm coming to yourself or others
  • Unwanted sexual or violent thoughts
  • Obsessive over perfectionism
  • Fear of contamination with dirt, germs, or illnesses
  • Unwanted and intrusive thoughts about violence, sex, religion, or harm
  • Inability to let go of objects or throw items away
  • Excessive need to organize and check things multiple times
  • A need to have things “just right”

Compulsion Symptoms In OCD

These compulsions are repetitive behaviors or rituals that a person feels driven to do in order to alleviate anxiety. Examples of compulsions may include:

  • Constant washing and cleaning rituals such as hand-washing
  • Checking locks repeatedly due to fear of something bad happening.
  • Counting objects obsessively due to feeling.
  • Repeating certain words, phrases, or numbers silently in the head
  • Ordering and arranging objects in a certain order.
  • Mental compulsions such as prayer or mental review of neutralizing thoughts.

What Is OCD Caused By?

OCD Caused By

The cause of OCD is unknown, however, this condition can start from teenage to adult. Sometimes it also targets children, apart from it some of the reasons are:

  • Genetic Cause: OCD is more common in families, suggesting a genetic factor may be involved. This could be due to differences in brain chemistry or structure.
  • Environmental Factors: Stressful life events or changes can trigger the onset of OCD. Traumatic experiences in childhood, such as abuse or neglect, have also been linked to the development of OCD.
  • Biological Causes: Research has found that certain areas of the brain are affected in people with OCD. This includes an imbalance in serotonin and glutamate levels, which can affect behavior and mood. Abnormalities in certain regions of the brain are associated with OCD behaviors.
  • PANDAS Causes: Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal infections (PANDAS) is an autoimmune disorder that can cause OCD symptoms. This occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue in the brain, resulting in inflammation and changes in behavior.

Diagnosis of OCD

OCD can be difficult to diagnose as the symptoms vary from person to person. Here is some way to diagnose OCD:

  • A mental health professional can evaluate a person’s symptoms and determine if they meet the criteria for a diagnosis of OCD. This may involve discussing their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in detail.
  • It is up to the occurrence of obsessions and compulsions and how it affects the person’s life. The doctor may also ask questions about family history, any mental health diagnoses a person has had in the past, and any current symptoms that might be related to OCD.
  • It is important that a doctor performs a thorough assessment of all symptoms before making a diagnosis.
  • Imaging tests such as an MRI or CT scan can help detect any structural changes in the brain associated with OCD.

What Are The Types Of OCD?

Types Of OCD

There are various types of OCD, each resulting from a different combination of obsessions and compulsions. Here are some of the seven main types of OCD:


In contamination OCD a person has a fear of germs, dirt, and other contaminants. This may involve excessive washing and cleaning behaviors. In this type, one may avoid public places or anything that could harbor germs.

Symmetry And Orderliness

Involves keeping things in perfect order, such as arranging objects on shelves and organizing clothes in drawers. In this type, one is also may be obsessed with symmetry and balance in the environment. It is hard to leave things untouched or out of order.


Individuals with hoarding OCD have an intense fear of throwing away items even if they are not useful. The compulsion to hoard can lead to a buildup of clutter in the home and can interfere with daily activities.

Unacceptable Thoughts Or Ideas

In this type, the person has intrusive thoughts about harming oneself or others. This can lead to feelings of guilt and anxiety, which may cause them to engage in rituals such as praying or repeating certain words. The person may also try to neutralize these thoughts with other positive ones.


Relationship OCD can cause excessive worrying and doubt about the status of a relationship. Some signs include intrusive thoughts about one’s partner, fear of being “too clingy,” or compulsive checking to see if the partner is still interested.


In harm OCD, the person is afraid of causing harm to themselves or others and may have obsessive thoughts about violence. This can lead to avoidance of certain situations or people, as well as compulsive behaviors such as checking for safety multiple times or seeking reassurance from others.


Rumination OCD is a type of obsession where the person has difficulty controlling their thoughts. They may become preoccupied with certain topics and ruminate on them for hours or days. This type of OCD can lead to feelings of guilt or shame, as well as mental exhaustion.

Is OCD A Lifelong Condition?

OCD is a chronic and lifelong condition. It is hard to treat it in most cases. However, there are treatments that can reduce symptoms and help a person manage their signs.

It can be managed with the right treatment plan, but it is not curable. The symptoms of OCD typically come in cycles, with periods of remission followed by periods of increased intensity.

It is important to remember that while relapse may occur, it does not mean failure.

OCD Treatment

OCD Treatment

Here are some forms of treatment that are available to people with obsessive-compulsive disorder:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

CBT is a type of psychotherapy that helps people identify and challenge the negative thoughts and beliefs that fuel their OCD symptoms. It can also help them learn to better manage stress, anxiety, and other emotions. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is one type of CBT that has been used to help people with OCD. It targets the person’s thoughts and behaviors to help them better manage their OCD symptoms.

HRT is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy specifically designed for treating OCD. It helps individuals identify triggers for their compulsive behaviors, substitute new behaviors for those compulsions and develop coping strategies to manage stress.

It can also help people focus on recognizing when they are engaging in OCD-related behavior and reduce it with healthier alternatives such as relaxation techniques or self-talk.

Exposure And Response Prevention

ERP is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy specifically designed for treating OCD. In this type of treatment, therapists gradually expose individuals to their fears in an effort to reduce their obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. This is done by learning to resist the urge to perform compulsive behavior and allowing oneself to experience the anxiety associated with it.

Here are some of the types of ERP techniques:

  • Imaginal Exposure: In this technique, the person will be asked to imagine situations that provoke their fear and anxiety in order to become more comfortable with them.
  • In Vivo Exposure: This type of ERP involves exposure to real-life triggers such as objects, places, or people that evoke fear and anxiety.
  • Interoceptive Exposure: This involves focusing on physical sensations that are associated with fear or anxiety in order to become more comfortable with them.
  • Virtual Reality Exposure: In this type of therapy, the person wears a virtual reality headset and is exposed to realistic simulations of their fears.

Acceptance And Commitment Therapy

Acceptance And Commitment Therapy

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is a type of therapy that focuses on helping people accept their fearful thoughts and feelings without trying to fight them. The goal is to create a life that is meaningful, even with the presence of difficult thoughts and emotions. It works on the idea that when we accept our thoughts and feelings without judgment, we can learn to focus on taking action toward what is important to us.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy 

DBT is a form of psychotherapy that is designed to help people better manage their emotions and behaviors. It combines cognitive behavioral techniques with mindfulness-based approaches in order to help individuals become more aware of their thoughts and feelings, as well as how they affect their behavior. DBT can be used to treat OCD in addition to other mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.


Certain medications can help reduce symptoms of OCD, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Some people may also benefit from antipsychotic medications or antianxiety drugs. Some anti-anxiety medications, such as Xanax or Ativan may also be prescribed in cases where the condition is particularly severe. It is important for a person to talk with their doctor about any side effects they may experience before taking these medications.


A neuromodulation is a form of treatment that uses electrical impulses to alter the way brain cells communicate with each other. It has been found to be effective in reducing symptoms of OCD and can also help reduce anxiety and depression.

  • Deep Brain Stimulation: DBS is an invasive form of neuromodulation that involves surgically implanting electrodes into the brain in order to target areas associated with OCD symptoms. It has shown promising results, although it is still considered experimental.
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation: TMS is another form of neuromodulation in which magnets are used to stimulate the brain. It has been found to be helpful in reducing symptoms of OCD, particularly when other treatments have failed.

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation can help people with OCD become more aware of their thoughts and feelings, allowing them to better manage their symptoms. It is a form of therapy that focuses on being present at the moment without judgment or criticism. Mindfulness can be practiced through guided meditations, yoga classes, and other activities. It is the natural way of focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.

Self Help Technique

Self-help techniques can also help people with OCD manage their symptoms. For example, deep breathing, physical exercises, running, and relaxation exercises may be helpful in reducing anxiety associated with obsessive thoughts. Enough sleep, a healthy diet, and avoiding alcohol or nicotine can also be helpful in controlling symptoms of OCD.

Additionally, many people find that using grounding techniques, such as focusing on five things that one can see or touch around them, can help to take the focus away from intrusive thoughts. Finally, journaling or talking to a close friend or family member may also be beneficial in managing symptoms of OCD.

Herbal Remedies

Herbal remedies have been used for centuries to treat a variety of mental health conditions, including OCD. St. John’s wort and kava may be helpful in reducing anxiety and depression associated with OCD symptoms. Valerian root and chamomile may also help reduce stress levels, while lavender has been found to relieve insomnia that often accompanies OCD. Additionally, some people find that taking probiotics or omega-3 fatty acids can be beneficial in managing symptoms as well. It is important to discuss any herbal remedies with a doctor before trying them.

Can You Live Normally With OCD?

It is hard to live a normal life when suffering from OCD, but it is possible. The key is to identify triggers and use strategies to cope with them. A combination of medication, therapy, self-care techniques, and lifestyle changes can help people with this disorder manage their symptoms so that they can still lead fulfilling lives. With the right resources and support, people with OCD can learn to manage their condition and live more productive lives.


OCD is a complex mental health disorder that can be difficult to manage. CBT, medication, and neuromodulation all have potential benefits for those who suffer from this disorder. Additionally, self-help techniques and herbal remedies may also be helpful in managing the condition. It is important for those with OCD to work closely with their doctor or therapist to find the approach or combination of approaches that best suits their needs.

Take care, and don’t forget that you are not alone! OCD is a mental health disorder characterized by obsessions and compulsions. If you have any queries regarding OCD treatmentERP therapy experienced therapists at OCDMantra can help: Book a trial OCD therapy session

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