What makes an anxiety disorder a disorder is that it negatively affects your everyday life, all or most of the time. Sufferers often describe their anxiety as something they feel off and on throughout their day. Some even feel their anxiety all day long. OCD and anxiety come in different forms, however, the physiological and emotional reactions to it are very often similar.
We specialize in the treatment of OCD and Anxiety Disorders. Below are some of the types of anxiety we work with on a daily basis at The OCD and Anxiety Treatment Center.
THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF ANXIETY AND OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE DISORDERS WE TREAT
Please select from the following for more information
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Social Anxiety Disorder
- Bothered by certain sounds or noises
- Panic Attacks
- Causing Harm by Accident
- Causing Harm to Others on Purpose
- Colors with special significance
- Postpartum OCD
- Compulsive Checking
- Contamination Fear
- Fear that one already has a terrible illness or disease
- Sexual Obsessions
- Ordering and Arranging
- Generalized Anxiety
- Counting compulsion
- Religious Obsessions
- Excessive concern with body part or aspect of appearance
- Religious Scrupulosity
- Excessive list making
- Repeating/Replaying compulsion
- Fear of losing things
- Ritualized eating behaviors
- Fear of not saying just the right thing
- Rituals involving blinking or staring
- Fear of saying certain things
- Self-damaging or self-mutilating behavior
- Washing and Cleaning
- Reassurance seeking
- Panic Disorders
- Sexual Orientation Obsessions
- Superstitious behaviors
- Intrusive (non-violent) images
- Superstitious fears
- Intrusive nonsense sounds, words, or music
- Symmetry and Exactness
- Lucky and/or unlucky numbers
- Mental Rituals
- Urge to confess
- Need to know or remember
- Urges to touch or tap
- Olfactory OCD
OCD is characterized by the presence of obsessions and/or compulsions.
• Obsessions are recurrent and persistent thoughts, urges or images that are experienced as intrusive and unwanted.
• Compulsions are repetitive behaviors or mental acts that an individual feels driven to perform in response to an obsession or according to rules that must be applied rigidly.
While the specific content of obsessions and compulsions varies among individuals, certain symptom dimensions are common in OCD, including those of cleaning (e.g. contamination obsessions and cleaning compulsions), symmetry (e.g. symmetry obsessions and repeating, ordering, and counting obsessions), forbidden or taboo thoughts (e.g. aggressive, sexual or religious obsessions and related compulsions), and harm (e.g. fears of harm to oneself or others and related checking compulsions.) OCD can take a toll on the quality of life of the person affected by it, and it may consequently interfere with their daily activities in school, work, social activities, and even personal relationships. The mean age for onset is 19.5 years, with 25% occurring by age 14, and in males 25% occurs by age 10. It is unusual for OCD to present after age 35. There are gender differences in the pattern of symptom dimensions (e.g., females are more likely to have symptoms in the cleaning dimension and males are more likely to have symptoms in the forbidden thoughts and symmetry dimensions).
Generalized anxiety is characterized by the extreme feeling of worry and the anticipation that something disastrous will happen, without any obvious reasons. The feeling of being worried and concerned about certain unfortunate events that might occur can result in anxiety and depression. The person worries without any evidence to back-up their fear, and their concern is disproportionate to the situation. Generalized anxiety can take a toll on the quality of life of the person affected by it, and it may consequently interfere with their daily activities in school, work, social activities, and even personal relationships. The median age of onset is 30 years, and onset rarely occurs prior to adolescence. Women are more prone to the condition than men. Generalized anxiety is different from the common worries that we all experience as normal beings, because the feeling of worry is more persistent, excessive, intrusive and debilitating.
Social anxiety is characterized by an individual being fearful or anxious about or avoidant of social interactions and situations that involve the possibility of being scrutinized. These include social interactions such as meeting unfamiliar people, situations in which the individual may be observed eating or drinking, and situations in which the individual performs in front of others. The cognition is of being negatively evaluated by others, by being embarrassed, humiliated, or rejected, or offending others. Social anxiety can take a toll on the quality of life of the person affected by it, and it may consequently interfere with their daily activities in school, work, social activities, and even personal relationships. The mean age for onset is 13 years, with 75% occurring between ages 8 and 15. Social anxiety may follow a stressful or humiliating experience (e.g., being bullied, vomiting during a public speech), or may develop slowly. Social anxiety is rare in adulthood, being more likely to occur after a stressful or humiliating event or after life changes that require new social roles (e.g., marrying someone from a different social class, receiving a job promotion). Gender differences are shown with females reporting a greater number of social fears, and males being more likely to fear dating.
A phobia is the feeling of extreme fear or anxiety about things or situations that in reality do not pose a significant danger. The object of one’s fear may be due to animals, public places, public restrooms, closed-in places, needles, insects, darkness, heights – indeed, it can be a fear of anything. The fear experienced is often quite unreasonable and the mere thought of the object of one’s phobia may be enough to cause overwhelming anxiety. Phobias usually develop during childhood, with the majority of cases developing prior to age 10, but it may also develop in adulthood. The fear that one feels in a phobia is exaggerated and actually non-existent and the threat causing the fear may be non-existent, but the fear that one feels does exist; however, the person with a phobia is often consumed with great fear that is irrational and accompanied by panic. This leads to feelings of horror and dread. As a result, extreme anxiety is experienced and the feeling of terror can take over a person’s thoughts.
Perfectionism is characterized by holding oneself or others to a high standard that can cause unnecessary pressure to that person. The sense of perfectionism can be a powerful influence on how one thinks about him or herself and of others, which is based on extreme and unreasonable standards. This type of personality trait pushes the person to strive for excellent performance and flawlessness, and their inability to meet these unrealistic standards can result in extreme self-criticism and critical evaluation of others. Perfectionists focus on pushing themselves with high motivation to achieve their goals, which can deprive them of enjoying the pleasure of doing the activity. The inability to meet these self-imposed, impossible standards can result in disappointment, anxiety, and depression.
During a panic attack, the person will feel an episode of intense anxiety and fear. Panic attacks are relatively rare until the age of puberty, although they can occur in children. Women are more likely than men to experience panic attacks. Panic attacks are commonly referred to as an anxiety attack, where the physical sensation of fear is usually unrelated to any actual threat. When an attack occurs, one will often exhibit physical symptoms of dizziness, muscle tension, shortness of breath and palpitations. Symptoms may also be emotional, such as, fear of losing control or fear of dying, and these effects may last longer than the physical anxiety. While feeling the sensation of panic is normal under certain conditions where there is a real threat, there is a problem if panic attacks occur regularly and are recurring for no apparent reason. If left untreated, panic attacks become a disabling condition and the risk of developing other mental health conditions, such as phobias, is increased. Panic attacks are not associated with any specific trigger and are therefore unpredictable and unavoidable. This can lead to the isolation of the affected person from his environment, and can lead to conditions such as agoraphobia. Seeing a doctor immediately will help rule out any underlying medical conditions and pave a way for successful treatment.
Hoarding Disorder is an obsessive-compulsive disorder characterized by persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions, regardless of their actual value, as a result of a strong perceived need to save the items, and distress associated with discarding them. Hoarding disorder differs from normal collecting. For example, symptoms of hoarding disorder result in accumulation of a large number of possessions that congest and clutter normal living areas to the extent that their intended use is substantially compromised. The excessive acquisition form of hoarding disorder, which characterizes most, but not all individuals with hoarding disorder, consists of excessive buying, collecting, stealing of items that are not needed or for which there is no available space. When taken to an extreme level, the condition may result in disturbing consequences which affect the emotional, social and personal relationships, financial, and physical state of the affected person and often their loved ones. What sets these clients apart from others is their unreasonable behavior of keeping clutter by hoarding items such as plastic bags, newspapers, photographs, food, magazines, old containers, clothing, and household supplies. Hoarding becomes problematic when the activity interferes with everyday living, such as not having enough space to move freely around one’s home because of the amount of cluttered items that have been hoarded, and when it has a negative effect on the person’s ability to function (e.g. the failure to maintain a safe environment). Compulsive hoarding is associated with anxiety, psychosis, dementia, and depression.
Olfactory OCD is also known as an “olfactory reference syndrome,” which is a behavior characterized by an intense and irrational belief that one’s body emits an offensive odor. It becomes a disturbing behavior when one becomes preoccupied with a particular body smell and starts engaging in ritualistic avoidant behaviors. The person with olfactory OCD is often focused on one smell only, but several odors may be involved simultaneously. This includes obsession about genital odor, fecal odor, bad breath, rotten egg, ammonia, and body odor, among others. The individual with olfactory OCD is likely to feel embarrassment and anxiety. This can result in the person obsessively and repeatedly checking for body odor, frequent changing of clothes, using perfumes or colognes to smell good, and even repeatedly asking others for assurance regarding one’s perceived odor. The behavior becomes disturbing when it results in the avoidance of social functions, isolating oneself from others, poor performance at work or in school, or if one chooses to become housebound and non-functional. Depression and anxiety are also common and, if left untreated, may increase the risk of the person developing suicidal tendencies.
Religious scrupulosity involves feelings of extreme worry regarding moral and religious issues, resulting in both mental and behavioral obsessive compulsive disorders. The anxiety and depression that one experiences with religious scrupulosity arises from a great concern of doing something that may violate religious doctrine. Behavioral compulsions can develop such as: frequent trips to confession, engaging in acts of self-sacrifice, and performing repeated purifying and cleansing rituals. Among the mental compulsions exhibited are: excessive praying, repeating scripture passages mentally and imagining sacred images. What makes the condition different from normal religious practices, is the obsession and compulsion to perform a specific ritualistic behavior that are trivial. The cause of the condition remains unknown, but genetic and environmental influences are suspected.
About 3 to 5 percent of new mothers usually experience postpartum OCD. The risk of developing this disorder is higher among those with familial history of anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder. It is suspected that the disorder may already begin during pregnancy and then becomes more prominent after giving birth. A mother with postpartum OCD usually experiences intrusive and persistent thoughts about her baby. The compulsive behavior revolves around reducing her fears involving the baby, which may take the form of showing hypervigilance when taking care of the child, repeated cleaning and reordering things, and even feeling the sense of fear of being alone with the infant. The intrusive thoughts of the mother can significantly affect the quality of time she spends with her baby, and may even cause problems in her family life.
Contamination fear is a type of an obsessive compulsive disorder where the person feels fear about being contaminated by either real objects or magical things. Real objects may be bacteria or viruses, secretions, bodily wastes and other similar things that may appear as a threat to the person with the condition. Magical things as sources of one’s fear may include certain names of illnesses and bad luck. Obsessive compulsive contamination fear may result in the person isolating himself from others, and developing the inability to socialize or being free to go out in public, which may lead to agoraphobia. People with contamination fear tend to be obsessed with frequent and repeated washing and in decontaminating spaces. Sources of obsessions often involve dirt and germs, household items, greasy substances, animals or insects, and environmental contaminants. The obsessive behavior of the person can become destructive to personal and social relationships because others may feel pressured, or find it difficult to understand, about the compulsions exhibited by the person affected with contamination fears. While it is considered to be a form of a behavioral disorder, obsessive compulsive contamination fear is highly treatable with cognitive behavioral therapy and medication. Getting help at the earliest signs of the disorder can help the individual overcome his obsessive compulsive behavior more effectively.
Causing harm by accident is a form of an obsessive compulsive disorder that is characterized by the behavior of being overly concerned with one’s actions, and that one’s actions could cause harm to others. Their concern about being responsible for harming others by accident extends even to matters that are not within their control. The common symptoms experienced by the person affected are images appearing in their mind that they are causing harm to themselves or others, and other intrusive thoughts with growing concern about being responsible for afflicting injuries on other people.The person is doubtful about their actions and is obsessively in fear of the consequences of their actions. Common instances when fear occurs in this type of obsessive compulsive disorder is the thought that one might have hit a pedestrian while driving or has left a gas stove on. People with this kind of behavioral disorder are known to have poor memories, but research studies lack the evidence to show whether it is due to a malfunction in the brain or is a case of an anxiety disorder. The person tends to manifest the compulsion to repetitively check and re-check, making sure that they have performed a particular action right.
This type of obsessive compulsive disorder consists of the fear of harming others on purpose. The person experiences intrusive and impulsive thoughts that they may suddenly cause harm to others, simply because they are capable of doing so. Generally, the person’s fear is based on the worry that they are unable to control themselves and may hurt others as a result. It is a very upsetting behavioral condition that can cause the person to fear they will hurt others, or themselves. The major concern for these individuals is that they will hurt their loved ones (e.g. stabbing the person they know) or harming those living with them at home. However, such impulsive thinking may also involve strangers (e.g. pushing an old woman across the street or punching someone impulsively). Individuals affected with this disorder usually do not have any history of violence and they are not known to act upon their impulses. The main problem is rooted in the fixation on the idea that it is possible to harm others, which may cause the person to suffer from extreme worries and anxiety. Significant mental effort is exerted by the person in order to repel the ideas of harming others on purpose, and this can consequently magnify the person’s level of anxiety and stress.
Sexual obsessions involve repeated sexual thoughts that are described as involuntary. What makes the condition more severe is the failure to suppress the disturbing thoughts and feelings. Sexual obsession appears to be common among people with a history of traumatic stress disorder and sexual addiction. Those suffering from paraphilia and those with mania and sexual dysfunction are also susceptible to sexual obsessions. Common obsessive thoughts include the possibility of being homosexual, and most of these affected individuals consider the thoughts involving sexual obsessions as immoral. Such compulsive and obsessive thoughts magnify the feeling of guilt and they find the sexual thoughts and feelings to be unpleasant. People with sexual obsessions need help and understanding. They struggle against the guilty feeling caused by their sexual obsessions, and as a result, they become at risk of developing anxiety and become susceptible to distress. The unwanted thoughts and feelings involve undesirable emotions, anger, lust, disgust and extreme guilt. When the person is incapable of managing their obsessive thoughts, they are at risk for depression and anxiety. As the person begins to struggle with their condition, they are often confronted with many “whys.” Sexual obsession is different from sexual fantasies where the person derives pleasure from it. Instead, the person with the sexual obsession type of OCD is confronted with feelings of guilt and shame that affects their social life and their ability to function normally.
Sexual orientation obsession is a specific type of obsessive compulsive disorder in its sexual obsession form. Others coined the term “homosexual obsessive compulsive disorder” for this type of condition. The affected person feels ashamed and alienated because of their condition. The fear comes from being afraid of one’s homosexual desires. Diagnosing sexual orientation obsession is often seen as a part of the sexual obsession type of obsessive compulsive disorder and not as a separate disorder. The classic symptom attributed to this condition is the fear and worry about an unwanted sexual orientation. The person worries that people may think that they are homosexual, together with an extreme concern that they have hidden desires for the same sex. Sexual orientation obsession is often misdiagnosed and is largely a neglected type of obsessive compulsive disorder. However, the treatment is almost the same as it is with other forms of obsessive compulsive sexual obsessions. It has been noted that many patients spend time in treatment or therapy for this kind of obsessive compulsive disorder. People with this condition are considered to be heterosexual, and the fear becomes highly intrusive and affects the person’s social life significantly.
Religious obsession is a form of obsessive compulsive disorder that is referred to as ‘scrupulosity’. The person is confronted with feelings and thoughts of guilt, doubt, fear and anxiety involving their faith. The obsession is derived from feeling inadequacy in one’s ability to follow and practice their religion and faith. The anxiety comes from the guilty feeling of religious and moral failure of the person. The gravity of the anxiety comes from the compulsion of guilt, not only because they failed to do moral, religious and ethical practices, but also they consider it as a violation of God. Religious obsession makes up about 25% of the people affected with obsessive compulsive disorders. Studies show that Protestant individuals are known to have a high level of incidence of religious obsessions and they are more likely to seek religious counselling than medical treatment to overcome their condition. Those with a high level of negative concepts about God tend to have more serious symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder of the religious obsession type. The negative concept about God emanates from the belief that God is vindictive and, therefore, the more compulsion they experience to make up for their religious shortcomings and minor sins. Specialized training provided to religious leaders is recommended because most people seek religious counselling rather than asking for help from medical professionals that specialize in the treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder.
A person with this form of obsessive compulsive disorder has symptoms of being uncomfortable with objects that are misaligned or disarranged. The person tends to impose perfection on the way things are arranged and, if things appear to be in a disarrayed condition, it can create a certain level of anxiety. They cannot stand to see something as disorderly and have the compulsion to arrange things in what they see as the ‘proper’ order. The person wants to correct everything that appears to be haphazardly arranged, although this should be a minor concern. The individual manifests the behavior of being crazy and obsessed about having things in order, which causes them extreme stress and anxiety. Those with the symmetry and exactness obsession personality can often trace the anxiety disorder from their family history. They appear to be bothered about situations that would normally be considered a minor concern, or they seem to be irrational. In certain cases, people with this type of personality disorder appear to be influenced by “magical thinking,” (e.g. accidents may happen when the person is not in the right place). It can be distressing to be the person who needs everything to be perfectly arranged and placed at the right location, while those people around them feel that their thoughts are ridiculous. The affected person believes that magical karma may happen to them if they do not care enough, and so the compulsive rearranging and exacting symmetry continues.
There are common compulsions that are too general to fall within a specific category of obsessive compulsive disorder. These are the types of compulsions that consist of short-term manifestations of the disorder and are of the temporary type.
This form of compulsion manifests itself in frequent doubts about whether one has done something that is not proper, or they have a fear of committing mistakes. The compulsion is an urge of obliging oneself to tell or express their thoughts and feelings about their observation and own actions. Some may resort to confessing their actions or activities to a priest in an effort to free oneself from damnation. There is a sense of urgency to confess or tell someone about the details of their past actions and decisions to confirm that what they did was proper. Engaging in this kind of compulsion may result in strained social relationships because others may feel frustration each time they have to listen to the person telling every detail of their action. It can also be difficult to explain things to an affected person who needs reassurance all the time.
People with this obsessive compulsive behavior have the fear of forgetting something very important and, in an attempt to compensate for such fear, becomes obsessed about making a list of their activities. It should be noted that individuals manifesting this kind of obsessive compulsive behavior do not have problems with being forgetful, thus keeping a list is actually unnecessary. This behavior is considered to be compulsive because the person tends to make a list, even when it is not necessary to do so. Making the list is merely an attempt to reassure the person that they will not forget to do their routine activities (e.g. brushing their teeth, making breakfast, cleaning or washing something, and other daily activities).
Individuals who have some type of an obsessive compulsive disorder tend to seek reassurance from others. These individuals may have sexual orientation, moral, religious, or bodily concerns. They often have frequent visits to a doctor and seek reassurance that they have not contracted an illness. Seeking reassurance from others becomes a way of coping with their distress, and the behavior becomes a compulsion to get comfort from others, making sure that they have not offended other people with their actions (e.g. saying the wrong things). Individuals with this form of a compulsive behavior are skilled at eliciting reassurance from people. They tend to learn how to obtain reassuring feedback without the other person being aware of their motive. Treatment may consist of providing reassurance; however, some therapists believe that this form of treatment approach may only encourage the repeated cycle of the reassurance seeking behavior.
One of the most common and well known symptoms of compulsive behavior is washing and cleaning. This behavior is influenced by the compulsion to decontaminate oneself or one’s surroundings, and such compulsive acts become a routine and are perpetually performed. The person either fears harming others by contamination or feels uncomfortable about contamination without the worry of harming others. The person feels a compulsion to wash, resulting in excessive cleaning and hand washing. Doing these activities becomes a ritual that is repeated. Those who are compulsive washers tend to engage in excessive use of hand sanitizers in between activities (e.g. hand washing, brushing the teeth, and showering excessively). The act of compulsive cleaning is a contamination obsessive compulsive disorder whereby the person spends a considerable amount of time cleaning the household due to a fear of contamination. They spend lengthy amounts of time of cleaning in an effort to keep dirt and germs away from inanimate objects. The person will show a great deal of avoidance behavior (e.g. changing clothes upon entering and leaving the house, not picking up fallen objects on the floor, and the frequent sanitizing of things around them).
Compulsive checking is a form of obsessive compulsive disorder that involves various forms of compulsive acts and behaviors, including the fear of harming others and/or sexual obsessions. The main issue with this form of OCD is the person feeling distress that is associated with the thought of causing harm to others. A consequence of this obsession is that the person becomes inclined to compulsively check, due to their worries that they may not be careful enough and will cause harm to others. The person performs compulsive acts after a random thought comes in the mind that they consider to be harmful and dangerous. In most instances, the person feels that the mere thought of bad things happening, means that it could likely happen. The most common and well known compulsion for people with this type of obsessive compulsive disorder are checking locks repeatedly in order to ensure safety, despite having already checked. The same checking can be applied to the stove and other home appliances. The person might entertain the thought of a possible break-in for instance, thus finding the need to check the doors, window latches or car door locks repeatedly. The fear of burning or causing a fire is also a common obsession which leads to the compulsion of checking electrical appliances to make sure they are unplugged in order to have peace of mind. The classic motivation of the compulsion of repeated checking is ultimately to ensure that no harm is caused to another.
Obsessive compulsive disorder may also take the form of a repeating or replaying compulsion where the individual is compelled to check things repeatedly and doing and re-doing things. The person may manifest the compulsive acts of re-reading the same phrase over again or re-writing something, including excessive correction of what the person wrote. A person who has the compulsive repeating and replaying form of OCD repeats routine activities like going up and down the stairs or even saying the same things repeatedly. The compulsive nature of the condition emanates from the fear of making a mistake or making sure everything is safe and perfect so as not to cause harm to others.
Compulsive counting manifests as a symptom of obsessive compulsive disorder where the person repeatedly counts numbers or things which they find to have some special significance. The person’s compulsive act is to perform specific actions within a number of times that they choose to be significant. For instance, the person believes that it is lucky to buy things in sets of two, therefore, they go to great lengths to buy them in a set of two. It can be said that the person’s compulsion is influenced by a numerical goal that in some way affects their actions and decisions. In certain instances, the individual may also count their actions without any specific numbers in mind (e.g. counting their steps when walking, counting the number of stairs, and counting the number of people who are passing by). The individual may count out loud at times, but mostly the counting is done mentally. Thus, it is difficult to identify that the person has a counting compulsion disorder. Usually, compulsive counting is not done for any particular reason. Research shows that people with the compulsive counting behavior often also have sexual obsessions. In this case, the counting compulsion behavior is a secondary problem to the sexual obsession. If someone experiences fear as part of their obsessive compulsive disorder symptom, the counting compulsion further reinforces the checking compulsion to ensure that no harm is caused to another person.
Repetitive ordering and arranging is common among individuals with obsessive compulsive disorder who tend to be preoccupied in accomplishing something with exactness. In order to accomplish their goal, they are compelled to make things right, in the proper order, and with better accuracy. The person becomes a perfectionist as they engage in ordering things all the time and arranging them to perfection.The compulsive act is triggered by the feeling that something is not right because a thing or object is not well arranged. They feel uncomfortable upon seeing disorderly things and objects within their sight. The mere thought that the object or thing is misplaced or not arranged in the proper order increases the level of anxiety in the person. In order to arrange things properly, the affected person often finds the need to arrange things in a pattern or to keep them in order. The person is very meticulous in arranging things with exact precision and perfection.
Mental rituals, as a form of obsessive compulsive disorder, involve the thoughts that are associated with one’s beliefs and giving such thoughts importance and feeling the need to control them. The person considers their thoughts to be a reflection of oneself (e.g. thinking bad thoughts makes them a bad person). As the person associates their thoughts with their self, the more stressed and anxious their mind becomes if those thoughts are disturbing. The distressing thoughts might include religious thoughts, thinking of harming others, and sexual thoughts. When the person begins to entertain these negative thoughts that are taboo in nature, he attempts to mentally neutralize it instead of engaging in covert rituals or activities. The person may do a mental prayer repeatedly in an attempt to replace the bad thoughts and/or images in their mind with the good thoughts and/or images. As one tries to erase the images mentally, it causes the person significant temporary relief from anxiety. The common mental rituals that a person with this form of obsessive compulsive disorder usually perform include: mental counting, silent prayers made repeatedly in the mind, mental list-making, mental un-doing of bad thoughts, and mental erasing of undesirable mental images. The person may also engage in mental or covert checking.
Studies have shown that the superstitious behaviors associated with obsessive compulsive disorder are often of stereotypical and repetitive routines; however, this behavior is not influenced by superstitious beliefs. Past theories have linked superstitious behaviors to the thought process involving a heightened sense of self-perpetuated danger or fear. For example, the person feels convinced that there is a potential dangerous consequence to their action which eventually drives their daily activities. This perceived danger actually does not exist; however, it is present in the person’s mind. This thought process often relates to obsessive compulsive disorder in the form of psychopathology. The superstitious behavior is more likely to be associated to obsessive thoughts rather than a compulsive behavior. The person becomes a prisoner of constant fear, thinking about the presence of a threat that eventually intensifies their fearful thoughts.
The repeated act of biting nails and picking the skin represent a compulsive behavior that is often referred to as a compulsive self-damaging or self-mutilating form of obsessive compulsive disorder. These acts have emotional and physical significance that can be both destructive and embarrassing at the same time. Research studies have associated self-mutilating and self-damaging behaviors to substance abuse disorders, as well as obsessive compulsive disorder, in that despite being harmful, the person derives some pleasure in doing them. Those affected by this condition are known to have a history of anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder. There is also a high correlation of self-mutilation to borderline personality disorder, schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders. For some who have depressive conditions, the behavior of self-infliction signifies the feeling of emptiness, unstable emotion, and disturbed self. People harm themselves as a way of coping with their anxiety, pain, and depression, which are often a result of traumatic experiences as seen in post-traumatic stress disorder, sexual, and physical abuse.
The urge to touch or tap on something is a symptom of obsessive compulsive disorder which falls within the movement compulsion behavior. The individual manifesting this symptom of OCD usually carries out their daily activities with the inclination of glancing at something in a special manner, reversing a movement they have just performed, touching the furniture or chair before sitting down, or tapping on drawers before opening them. The person may touch or tap doors, windows, railings, walls, handles and the like for a number of times as a compulsive action. This is done in order to relieve the person of the feeling of anxiety that is due to their obsessive thoughts. Individuals with these touching or tapping compulsions are often confronted with the distinct urge to do so. The idea of touching comes as a nagging thought that can become distressing to the person. Those experiencing these symptoms describe it as an impulse that is hard to resist.
Blinking and staring are symptoms of sensorimotor obsessive compulsive disorder. This is also referred to as a focused compulsion where the individual’s attention becomes focused on analyzing and/or thinking about the body’s autonomic processes. This includes the heart rate, swallowing, breathing, staring, and blinking. These processes may occur automatically to some of those affected with the condition and the compulsion to perform the action is beyond one’s conscious awareness. Because of these automated bodily responses, the person somewhat feels frustrated because they become more aware of their body sensations. The over focus on body functions can disrupt work and one’s socialization with others, such as when the person has to frequently make eye contact with other people, the unusual behavior may be perceived by others as rude and impolite. As a result, the person becomes uncertain about mingling with others because of their body-focused obsessive and compulsive behavior.
|Ritualized Eating Behaviors||(e.g. eating foods in certain order, etc.)|
Obsessive compulsive disorder is also associated with eating disorders. When this occurs, ritualized eating behaviors become a symptom of obsessive compulsive disorder. The condition is characterized by the person having obsessive thoughts of eating, specifically concerned about foods and calories. The person observes rituals such as symmetrically cutting foods or hoarding them. The individual may manifest preference to a certain color, shape or weight of food item. Such behavior is also linked to another symptom of obsessive compulsive disorder, perfectionism. In most cases, eating disorders are also related to anxiety disorders which can be the source of the ritualized eating behavior that results in the inner conflict and behavioral disorder seen from the condition.
(e.g. if a person hears part of some information, they need to hear the rest)
Need to know or remember compulsive behavior falls under other forms of obsession. The person becomes a perfectionist and wants to remember or know everything, especially when only a part of the information is obtained. The person begins to experience anxiety when they fail to obtain the complete information that they heard or was communicated to him. The compulsive act results from the feeling of being uncomfortable and uneasy if one fails to know the whole detail of the information.
The fear of saying certain things is a symptom of the reassurance type of obsessive compulsive disorder. The individual affected by the condition has an uncontrolled fear of saying something that may offend another person or a loved one.
|Fear of Not Saying Just the Right Thing||(e.g. need to be perfectly understood)|
This form of compulsion prevents the person from being open about themselves to others because of the fear that whatever they say may be misunderstood. The person has the compulsion to keep silent or not say anything for fear of saying the wrong thing. The person has the tendency of mentally rehearsing what they will say many times before uttering a word. They will not say anything unless they are certain that they have the perfect and precise response.
This form of obsessive and compulsive behavior is a symptom of perfectionism. The person tends to fear losing things that they need, so they will check and re-check something to ensure that it is properly kept and stored for safekeeping.
|Lucky and/or Unlucky Numbers||(i.e. that 4 is good and 13 is bad)|
People with obsessive compulsive disorder tend to become superstitious. As a result, their actions may revolve around counting compulsions (e.g. following lucky numbers and avoiding unlucky numbers). The person may buy things with a specific number of sets in particular (like in two or four sets) and will always avoid numbers that they associate with bad luck, like the number 13.
|Colors with Special Significance||(i.e. red is bad because of the devil, etc.)|
Superstitious obsessive compulsive behavior may affect one’s thoughts about colors, giving them significance and meaning. As a consequence of this obsessive compulsive behavior, the person’s activities are influenced by their superstitious thoughts involving color, such as avoiding the color red as it denotes “bad and evil.”
|Superstitious Fears||(e.g. can’t step on a crack)|
Superstitious fears are believed to be self-perpetuated as a form of obsessive compulsive behavior. It is also associated with the person’s fear of a self-conceptualized danger that has a tendency to influence the person’s daily activities. The fear experienced by the individual is one of an obsessive thought that is confined in the mind.
The fear that one already has a terrible illness or disease is a symptom of obsessive compulsive behavior belonging to the contamination type of OCD. The person is confronted with the fear of being contaminated and is afraid of contaminating others. The person manifests fear of germs and diseases and is mainly concerned about causing harm to others.
This condition, also known as body dysmorphic disorder, is a form of obsessive compulsive disorder where the person is overly concerned about an aspect of their appearance. The affected individual experiences a pervasive intrusive thought about a flaw in their appearance that is most of the time nonexistent. This condition is equally common in both men and women with obsessive compulsive disorder, and may lead to social isolation.
Obsessive compulsive disorder is also associated with the condition called misophonia, which pertains to sensitivity to sound or noises. Noise or sounds may become triggers of anxiety which become symptoms of obsessive compulsive behavior. Experts prefer to consider misophonia as a symptom of obsessive compulsive behavior; however, it is also associated with other psychiatric problems such as schizotypal personality disorder and generalized anxiety disorder.
|Intrusive (non-violent) Images||(i.e. cartoons, faces, clouds)|
Intrusive images are considered to be a symptom of obsessive compulsive disorder and anxiety. These images are a figment of one’s mind and are usually non-violent and might involve sexual and/or religious thoughts. The thoughts are considered to be intrusive because they become so bothersome to the person, that they affect their quality of life. The disturbing thoughts can result in causing significant stress.
Intrusive nonsense sounds, words or music are thought obsessions created by one’s inclination to fear such sounds, words or music, which the person has known to have created. This form of obsessive disorder does not fall within a specific sub-type of obsessive compulsive disorder. As a miscellaneous form of obsessive behavior, it is considered to be a mere symptom and not a specific type of obsessive compulsive disorder.