10 Common Types of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

by Ella

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition characterized by intrusive, distressing thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive behaviors or mental acts (compulsions) performed to alleviate the distress caused by these obsessions. OCD can manifest in various forms, and individuals with the disorder may experience different themes or types of obsessions and compulsions. In this comprehensive article, we will explore ten common types of OCD, shedding light on the nature of these obsessions and compulsions, and discussing the impact of this disorder on individuals’ lives.


Contamination OCD

Obsessions: Contamination OCD is marked by intense fears of being contaminated by germs, dirt, or harmful substances. Individuals with this type of OCD may obsessively worry about the cleanliness of their environment, personal items, or even their own bodies.


Compulsions: Compulsions typically involve excessive handwashing, cleaning, or avoidance behaviors. Sufferers may spend extended periods scrubbing themselves or their surroundings, sometimes to the point of physical harm.


Checking OCD

Obsessions: People with checking OCD have intrusive thoughts that something terrible will happen if they don’t repeatedly check things like doors, locks, appliances, or the stove. They fear they may have left something dangerous undone.


Compulsions: Compulsions for checking OCD involve repeatedly verifying and rechecking that things are secure or off. This can be time-consuming and interfere with daily life.

Hoarding OCD

Obsessions: Individuals with hoarding OCD experience extreme distress at the thought of discarding possessions, even if they are no longer useful or valuable. They may worry about needing these items in the future.

Compulsions: Compulsions in hoarding OCD include an overwhelming urge to acquire and keep things, leading to cluttered living spaces. These compulsions can impair daily functioning and create hazardous living conditions.

Symmetry and Ordering OCD

Obsessions: People with this form of OCD are obsessed with achieving perfection and balance in their surroundings. They may become distressed if things are not arranged precisely or if objects are not symmetrical.

Compulsions: Compulsions often involve repeatedly arranging, rearranging, or aligning objects until they feel satisfied. This behavior can consume a significant amount of time and energy.

Pure-O or Purely Obsessional OCD

Obsessions: Pure-O OCD is characterized by distressing intrusive thoughts, often of a taboo or violent nature. These thoughts can be extremely distressing and cause guilt, shame, or anxiety.

Compulsions: Unlike other types of OCD, Pure-O doesn’t always have visible external compulsions. Individuals may engage in mental rituals, such as counting or repeating phrases in their heads, to neutralize the distressing thoughts.

Scrupulosity OCD

Obsessions: Scrupulosity OCD revolves around religious or moral obsessions. Individuals may worry excessively about committing sins or offending their religious beliefs.

Compulsions: Compulsions may involve praying, seeking reassurance from religious authorities, or engaging in religious rituals excessively. Individuals with scrupulosity may struggle with the feeling of never being “pure” enough.

Perfectionism OCD

Obsessions: Perfectionism OCD involves the obsessive pursuit of flawlessness and fear of making mistakes. Individuals may become consumed by self-doubt and anxiety about not meeting their own high standards.

Compulsions: Compulsions may manifest as repetitive tasks to ensure perfection or constant checking of work. This type of OCD can lead to a significant reduction in productivity and increased stress.

Relationship OCD (ROCD)

Obsessions: ROCD focuses on doubts and anxieties about one’s romantic relationship. Individuals may obsessively question their feelings for their partner, fear infidelity, or worry about the relationship’s future.

Compulsions: Compulsions may include excessive reassurance-seeking, comparing one’s relationship to others, or constantly analyzing and evaluating the relationship. ROCD can strain relationships and cause emotional distress.

Harm OCD

Obsessions: Harm OCD centers around intrusive thoughts of causing harm to oneself or others, either intentionally or unintentionally. These thoughts can be violent or aggressive in nature.

Compulsions: Compulsions may involve avoidance behaviors, such as staying away from potentially dangerous objects, or mental rituals like repeating phrases to neutralize the violent thoughts.

Somatic OCD

Obsessions: Somatic OCD is characterized by obsessions related to physical health and bodily sensations. Individuals may be preoccupied with the fear of having a serious illness or experiencing bodily dysfunction.

Compulsions: Compulsions can involve frequent doctor visits, medical tests, or extensive online research about health conditions. Somatic OCD can lead to excessive healthcare costs and stress.

Impact of OCD on Daily Life

OCD can have a significant impact on an individual’s daily life, including their relationships, work, and overall well-being. Some common consequences of OCD include:

Impaired Relationships: OCD can strain relationships due to the time-consuming rituals, avoidance behaviors, or excessive reassurance-seeking. Partners, family members, and friends may find it challenging to understand and cope with the disorder.

Occupational and Academic Impairment: Individuals with OCD may struggle to maintain employment or perform well in school due to the time and energy consumed by their compulsions and obsessions.

Emotional Distress: OCD often leads to emotional distress, including anxiety, depression, guilt, and shame. These emotional challenges can further exacerbate the disorder.

Financial Burden: Compulsions such as excessive shopping, repeated doctor visits, or therapy costs can lead to a significant financial burden.

Physical Health: In some cases, the physical health of individuals with OCD can be affected. For example, excessive handwashing can lead to skin problems, and sleep disruptions can impair overall health.

Treatment for OCD

Fortunately, OCD is a treatable condition, and individuals experiencing its symptoms can find relief through various therapeutic approaches. Treatment for OCD typically includes:

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT, particularly a form called Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), is the most effective treatment for OCD. ERP involves exposing individuals to their obsessions and preventing them from engaging in their compulsions. Over time, this reduces the distress associated with obsessions.

Medication: In some cases, medication, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), may be prescribed to help manage the symptoms of OCD.

Support Groups: Joining a support group or seeking peer support can provide individuals with OCD the opportunity to share experiences and coping strategies with others who understand their challenges.

Lifestyle Adjustments: Implementing stress-reduction techniques, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and prioritizing self-care can complement OCD treatment.


Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a complex and challenging mental health condition that can manifest in various forms, with each type characterized by its unique obsessions and compulsions. OCD can significantly impact individuals’ lives, causing emotional distress, impairing relationships, and affecting daily functioning. However, with proper treatment, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and, in some cases, medication, individuals with OCD can achieve relief and regain control over their lives. It is crucial for those experiencing symptoms of OCD to seek professional help and support, as effective treatment options are available to help them manage this often debilitating disorder.


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