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What are the Different Types of OCD?

Some sources will tell you there are four different types of OCD. Some say there are five different types of OCD, while others report that there are seven or even 13. Let’s see if we can make some sense out of these discrepancies and determine once and for all what the different types of OCD are.

What is OCD?

Before we discuss what are the different types of OCD, we should probably begin by explaining what, exactly, OCD is. 

The full name of OCD is obsessive-compulsive disorder. It is a mental health condition that can cause people to have recurrent, intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and/or overwhelming urges to engage in repetitive behaviors (compulsions). Some people who have OCD have obsessions and compulsions, while others have obsessions only or compulsions only.

Obsessions that a Person with OCD Might Have

  • Extreme fear of becoming contaminated
  • Worrying that you forgot to lock the door, unplug an electrical device, or performed some other important safety-related task
  • Repeated sexual and/or blasphemous thoughts
  • Fear that you will impulsively harm yourself or someone else, such as by steering your car into a crowd of people 
  • Being overly concerned with perfection, which may include becoming upset when objects are not in a certain order, or if you think you have forgotten something 
  • Worrying that you may suddenly blurt out something obscene, blasphemous, or otherwise offensive
  • Thinking that you may have accidentally caused someone else to suffer

Types of Compulsions that Someone with OCD Might Have

  • Being unable to leave a room until you have turned the lights on and off a predetermined number of times or touched a series of objects in a particular order
  • Washing your hands, brushing your teeth, and/or showering an excessive number of times every day
  • Cleaning your room, office, or house repeatedly and excessively
  • Repeating certain body movements such as blinking, tapping your fingers or toes, or clearing your throat
  • Repeating certain words, phrases, or sequences of numbers over and over again
  • Checking and rechecking to make sure you did not inadvertently harm someone or damage something

As you can see, people with OCD may experience many different types of obsessions and compulsions. However, all of these obsessions and compulsions share two characteristics. One, they take up a significant amount of time and two, they are sources of considerable emotional distress. 

For example, frequent hand washing or showering can be symptomatic of OCD and aren’t simply a matter of extra cleanliness. People who are compelled to engage in these behaviors may do so dozens of times every day. Even if they have rubbed their skin raw, they will continue to pursue these behaviors. 

Person with one of the many different types of OCD

What Are the Different Types of OCD?

Now that we have described the two different types of OCD symptoms, it’s time to answer the main question of today’s post: What are the different types of OCD?

  • The DSM-5 has one entry for OCD. In the diagnostic criteria section of that entry, it is noted that a person with OCD may have obsessions, compulsions, or both. The DSM-5 does note that clinicians may specify if a person with OCD has good insight into their disorder, poor insight, or delusional beliefs, as well as if their disorder is tic-related. But there is no mention of separate types of OCD in this standard reference book that is used by clinicians throughout the U.S.
  • Some websites say there are four types of OCD: doubt and harm, contamination, perfection, and forbidden thoughts. However, not everyone who has OCD is limited to just one of these symptom categories. For example, it is possible for someone with OCD to have both forbidden thoughts and a fear of contamination.
  • Some other sites list five, seven, or 13 types of OCD. Many of these sites either add to or modify the four types of OCD that are listed in the previous bullet point. Examples of other types of OCD that are listed by these sources include hit-and-run OCD, relationship OCD, hoarding, doubt and incompleteness, and mental contamination.

So, once again: What are the different types of OCD? If you go by reputable sources such as the DSM-5 and the National Institutes of Health, there are no officially recognized types of OCD. However, individual cases of OCD may be described by the types of symptoms a person has. 

How is OCD Treated?

OCD may be treated with therapy and prescription medication. There is no medication that is designed solely to treat OCD. Some people who have OCD benefit from taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), or other antidepressants. Others may receive benzodiazepines, which are commonly prescribed to treat anxiety.

Therapy to treat OCD can include individual, group, and family sessions. These services may incorporate acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and other modalities. Services such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) have also shown promise for helping people experience relief from the symptoms of OCD.

Begin OCD Treatment in Atlanta, GA

Untreated OCD can undermine your ability to life a full, productive, and satisfying life. But when you receive effective OCD treatment from a trusted provider, you can regain control of your thoughts and behaviors. Peachtree Wellness Solutions offers multiple levels of mental health programs in Atlanta. Give us a call or visit our admissions page today to learn how we can help.