The 2 Major Types of OCD — and How to Recognize Them

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OCD affects people differently, but there are some common ways in which obsessions and compulsions are expressed.

Original Source: health.com

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition that involves compulsive recurring thoughts and/or behaviors. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders doesn’t classify OCD into subtypes, so there aren’t formally agreed upon categories of OCD. However, many psychologists can agree that there are two broad types of OCD from the perspective of what drives the disorder.

“In the broadest sense, I think about OCD in terms of types that involve fear versus types that involve nervous system discomfort,” Kristin Bianchi, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in treating obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorders like OCD, tells Health.

Here’s what to know about those two major types of OCD—and how they might manifest.

OCD driven by fear

With fear-driven OCD, obsessive or compulsive behaviors, called rituals, are performed because the person strongly believes that if they don’t do them, the things they fear will actually happen. For example, someone whose OCD manifests as obsessions with harm may constantly fear that harm will come to them or their loved ones, and may therefore check things repeatedly.

“It could be the fear that if they don’t check all of their appliances and light switches, the house will catch fire while they’re at work,” Bianchi says. “And before they leave the house, they will do things like turn the stove and light switches on and off repeatedly until they’re certain they are off.”

Other people with OCD may have obsessions with health from a fear of sickness. These folks are frightened that they or people around them will fall ill if they don’t take certain actions. Obsessive fears of contagion like this are often accompanied by compulsive cleaning of surfaces because of the belief that the germs on it could make people sick.

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