Different Types of OCD

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder that is characterized by recurring thoughts, feelings, or sensations – obsessions – that drive an individual to do repetitive behaviors – compulsions. OCD varies from person to person, and many psychiatrists believe that it can be divided into four subtypes of compulsive behaviors: cleaning, checking, ordering, and hoarding.

The type of obsession affects the compulsion that an individual with OCD will exhibit. Let’s talk about the different types of OCD and what you can do to keep it under control.

Contamination Obsessions with Compulsive Cleaning

This is the type that people most often associated with OCD. Obsession with contamination causes a feeling of extreme discomfort among individuals with this subtype. They deal with these feelings by repeatedly washing or cleaning themselves or the surfaces that they touch.

An example is continuously feeling that your hands are dirty after touching anything. You may also start to worry that you risk contaminating people around you with germs. You compensate by washing your hands excessively.

Harm Obsessions with Compulsive Checking

This type of obsessive-compulsive disorder is characterized by excessive intense thoughts of harming yourself or others. These thoughts may distress you, because you feel shameful and guilty that you are thinking about them.

People with this obsession may also think they are responsible for the bad things that are happening. They deal with these thoughts with mental or checking rituals.

An example is repeatedly driving by your house because of the feeling of it being on fire or burglarized. Another example is the constant thought that you are increasing the probability of disasters because you keep thinking about them.

Symmetry Obsessions with Arranging, Counting, and Ordering Compulsions

People often say that they “are OCD” because they like things neat and orderly. However, true OCD for symmetry (as diagnosed by a doctor who specializes in mental health) is a compulsion for arranging, counting and ordering items. It is accompanied by fear or intense discomfort when things are arranged in what is perceived to be an incorrect order.

This compulsion is mentally and physically exhausting for the affected individual, because it is time- and energy-consuming. It may also affect their social life as they may avoid other people in the fear of disrupting the symmetry and order of things, or that others will put things in the wrong order.


Another type of obsession that is associated with OCD is hoarding. It is the inability to let go of possessions regardless of their value. People with this obsession are also always afraid of accidentally throwing away something important. They may also feel that they are incomplete without their possessions.

People with this type of OCD tend to be more at risk of higher anxiety and depression than the other types. This is because of their excessive emotional attachment to objects and their constant fear of losing them.

Managing OCD in New York City and Connecticut

Having obsessive-compulsive disorder can significantly impact a person’s life. Fortunately, there are several treatment options to help people manage their condition and keep it under control.

Dr. Mark Stracks of Psy-Visions is a board-certified psychiatrist who specializes in adult psychiatry. He has many years of experience in diagnosing and treating patients who have various mental health issues, including OCD.

If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Stracks, contact our Connecticut office today at (203) 405-1745 or our New York office at (718) 887-2918. You may also fill out our appointment request form online now. You don’t have to struggle with your problems alone – we are here to help you.

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