Primarily Obsessional OCD: Signs and Causes

Primarily Obsessional OCD

Are you constantly tormented by unwanted, intrusive thoughts that seem to have no end? Do you feel trapped in your head, unable to escape the overwhelming anxiety that comes with them? If so, then you may be suffering from Primarily Obsessional OCD. This lesser-known subtype of OCD can be debilitating and isolating, but it’s important to know that there are effective treatments available. In this blog post, we’ll delve into what Primarily Obsessional OCD is all about and how it can impact your life.

What is Primarily Obsessional OCD?

What is Primarily Obsessional OCD?

Primarily Obsessional OCD, also known as Pure-O, is a type of OCD in which sufferers experience obsessions without visible compulsions. In other words, people with Pure-O have mental rituals and repetitive thoughts that take up a lot of their time and energy, but they don’t engage in the same types of physical behaviors that are typically associated with OCD. Even though compulsions may not be outwardly apparent, people with Pure-O still feel driven to complete them to ease their anxiety.

For many people with Pure-O, their obsessions center around themes of contamination or harm. They may be constantly worried about contracting a disease or making other people sick. They may also have intrusive thoughts about harming themselves or others. These obsessions can be extremely distressing and make it hard to focus on anything else.

Symptoms of Primarily Obsessional OCD

The signs of Primarily Obsessional OCD can vary from person to person, but common symptoms include:

  • Intrusive thoughts or images that cause distress and/or fear. These are often about harm coming to oneself or others, such as thoughts of hurting someone else or oneself.
  • Repetitive doubts and worries about making mistakes or causing harm. This can include worries about forgetting to do something or having done something wrong in the past.
  • Compulsive behaviors such as counting, checking, repeating words or phrases, and avoiding activities that trigger obsessions. These behaviors are meant to reduce anxiety but can end up taking a lot of time and energy.
  • An inability to control these thoughts, images, and behaviors. Even when the person knows that their thoughts and behaviors are irrational or excessive, it can be hard to stop them.
  • Feelings of shame or guilt about having these intrusive thoughts or engaging in compulsive behaviors. Sometimes the person may be afraid that people will find out about their thoughts or behaviors.
  • Difficulty concentrating and/or functioning in day-to-day activities due to obsessions and compulsions taking up so much time and energy. This can lead to problems with work, school, and relationships.
  • Physical symptoms such as muscle tension, headaches, stomachaches, and/or fatigue due to the stress of dealing with OCD.

Causes of Primarily Obsessional OCD

Causes of Primarily Obsessional OCD

There are many different possible causes of primarily obsessional OCD, and it is often difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of the disorder in any given individual. However, some risk factors have been linked with an increased likelihood of developing primary obsessional OCD.

These include:

  • Family History- One main risk factor for primary obsessive-compulsive disorder is a family history of OCD. Individuals who have first-degree relatives with OCD are at an increased risk of developing the disorder themselves.
  • Neurotransmitter Abnormalities- Neurotransmitters are chemicals that help to regulate emotions, and research has suggested that abnormalities in neurotransmitter activity may be linked with OCD. Some of the neurotransmitters that have been linked to OCD include serotonin, GABA, dopamine, and glutamate.
  • Stress- Stressful life events can also trigger or worsen OCD symptoms. Stressful situations can increase the risk of developing the primary obsessive-compulsive disorder or cause existing symptoms to become more severe.
  • Brain Abnormalities- Research has suggested that certain areas of the brain may be linked to OCD. These include the orbitofrontal cortex, cerebellum, and caudate nucleus. Abnormalities in these areas of the brain may contribute to the development of the primary obsessive-compulsive disorder.

It is important to note that a combination of factors can influence the development of primary obsessional OCD. This means that there is no single cause for the disorder, and treatment should be tailored to address each individual’s specific needs.

Treatment for Primarily Obsessional OCD

When it comes to treating primarily obsessional OCD, there are a few different approaches that can be taken. Some of these methods to treat primarily obsessional OCD include:


One of the most common treatments for primarily obsessional OCD is medications. SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, are the most commonly prescribed type of medication for this disorder. These medications work by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain, which can help to reduce symptoms and improve overall mood.

These medications are typically taken daily and can take several weeks to begin showing results. In some cases, other medications may be used in combination with SSRIs or as an alternative to them.


In addition to medications, psychotherapy is useful for treating primarily obsessional OCD. This type of therapy involves talking to a mental health professional about the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that are associated with the disorder.

During psychotherapy, an individual can learn how to manage their symptoms more effectively and develop coping strategies to reduce the severity of their OCD. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most commonly used approaches for treating primarily obsessional OCD in psychotherapy.

Another type of psychotherapy that may be beneficial is Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). This type of therapy involves exposing the individual to their OCD-related thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in a safe and controlled environment. The goal is to help them eventually learn to manage their symptoms more effectively on their own.

Self-Help Strategies

In addition to medications and psychotherapy, many self-help strategies can be beneficial for managing primarily obsessional OCD. These strategies include relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation; cognitive restructuring to help identify and challenge unhelpful thoughts; regular exercise; and journaling.

The key to any of these approaches is to find a method that works best for you and then practice it regularly. This can help to reduce the intensity of obsessive thoughts and eventually lead to better symptom management over time.

Another important self-help strategy to keep in mind is to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness involves focusing on the present moment, letting go of worries and rumination, and being kind and compassionate towards oneself. Mindfulness can help to reduce stress levels and improve overall well-being.

Support Groups

Another beneficial approach to managing primarily obsessional OCD is to join a support group. Support groups are a great way to connect with others who have similar experiences and can provide valuable insight and guidance on how to better manage the disorder.

Through these types of groups, individuals can learn about different strategies for dealing with primarily obsessional OCD, get advice from peers, and gain a better understanding of the disorder. It can also be a great way to find emotional support and build relationships with people who understand what you are going through.

Living with Primarily Obsessional OCD

Living with Primarily Obsessional OCD

Some of the impacts of having Primarily Obsessional OCD can be daunting and isolating for sufferers. Not only is there a strong sense of unease that affects one’s daily life, but the intrusive thoughts associated with it can cause feelings of shame and guilt.

Even though many people experience unwanted thoughts, they may not understand why they have them or how to cope with them. This is where Primarily Obsessional OCD comes in.

Primarily Obsessional OCD is an anxiety disorder that creates strong and repetitive thoughts, often related to fear, guilt, or shame. It can be difficult for a sufferer to identify the origin of these thoughts, but they typically revolve around negative self-talk and irrational worries about being a bad person or doing something wrong.


Primarily Obsessional OCD is an uncomfortable and complex condition that can have a major impact on the lives of those who suffer from it. However, with the right treatment and support, people can manage their symptoms and begin to lead more fulfilling lives. It’s important to understand that living with this condition isn’t plenty of resources available to help you better manage your thoughts and behavior.

If you think that you may be suffering from primarily obsessional OCD, speak with a mental health professional for advice on how best to manage your symptoms. By understanding the causes, recognizing your symptoms, and seeking appropriate treatment, you can learn to live with primarily obsessional OCD.

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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