Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD): Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) has a sequence of illogical thoughts and fears (obsessions) that cause the person to react with repetitive behaviors (compulsions). This type of behavior hinders normal performance in daily activities and causes a lot of restlessness.

OCD focuses on specific issues, for example, fear of being contaminated with germs. To calm this fear of contamination, a person may compulsively wash their hands until they feel pain. In this article, you can find valuable information related to this topic. But first, you must know what this disorder is and what types of OCD can occur in a person.

What is obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)?

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) was previously known as a psychiatric illness. However, today it is considered a common problem that affects a large part of the population.

Image from Freepik

It is within the group of anxiety disorders and has the following characteristics:


They are ideas, thoughts, images or impulses that are repeated and constant.


They are frequent behaviors that are carried out following specific rules of a stereotype.

Types of OCD

Among the types of obsessive compulsive disorder OCD, the following eight types can be detailed:

Cleaners and Washers

It occurs in people who are obsessed with contamination through specific objects and / or situations.


They are those that over-review in order to prevent a certain event from occurring.


They are people who persist in performing a repetitive action.


They are the individuals who require that the things that surround them have a rigid and determined order.


They are those who collect unimportant objects, which they cannot later dispose of.

Mental ritualizers

They are the people who have the habit of requiring repeated thoughts or images in order to compensate for their anxiety.

Haunted and pure obsessive

They are individuals who have frequent negative thoughts, which are usually uncontrolled.


These people often have sexual thoughts. Among which is the excessive fear of being homosexual.

Symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

A person with obsessive compulsive disorder may have only obsessive symptoms or only compulsion symptoms.

Obsession symptoms

Most of the time, the obsessions that arise are: fear of contamination or dirt, the need for things to have a specific order. Also, negative and violent thoughts. Among the most frequent symptoms of obsession we have:

  • Fear of contamination by touching objects that others have touched.
  • Doubts about whether the door was locked or a stove was turned off.
  • Stress occurred because objects are ordered in a specific way.
  • Restlessness about sexual images that are repeated in the mind.

Compulsion symptoms

Generally, the compulsions that are presented are: order, verification, strict routines, washing and cleaning.

Compulsion symptoms are usually:

  • Repeat a sentence, word or phrase in a low voice.
  • Wash your hands until the skin is irritated.
  • Count following a pattern.
  • You order objects so that they are oriented to the same side.

Causes of obsessive compulsive disorder

The cause of obsessive compulsive disorder is not fully known, but there are a number of theories that credit its cause to the following:

  • It may be due to natural chemical changes in the body.
  • It is presumed that it may have a genetic component.
  • Environmental factors.

Risk factors for OCD

Risk factors that can trigger obsessive compulsive disorder are:

  • Family background.
  • Have experienced stressful or traumatic situations.
  • Relationship with other mental health disorders such as anxiety disorder. Also, depression, substance abuse, among others.

Obsessive compulsive disorder diagnosis

In general, the steps that specialists use to diagnose OCD are as follows:

Physical exam

It is done in order to rule out other health problems that could be the origin of the symptoms.

Lab tests

The most requested by specialists to diagnose OCD are the complete blood count. Similarly, the control of thyroid function and detection of alcohol and drug use.

Psychological evaluation

It is an analysis that the specialist performs of your thoughts, feelings, symptoms and behavior.

Diagnostic criteria

The criteria established in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) are usually applied. Published by American Psychiatric Association (American Psychiatric Association).

Treatment to follow

The treatment to follow is psychotherapy and medications. In fact, if the two are combined, the treatment is usually more effective.


Progressive exposure to feared objects or obsessions is carried out. It is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) used to treat OCD. Another technique is response prevention exposure (ERP), which involves a lot of effort and practice on the part of the patient and whose purpose is to learn to control obsessions and compulsions in order to have a better quality of life.


In general, to treat OCD the specialist prescribes antidepressants. Among the medicines that are certified, the following can be mentioned:

  • Sertraline (Zolof), indicated in adults and children over 6 years of age.
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac), indicated in adults and children older than 7 years.
  • Paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva), used only in adults.
  • Clomipramine (Anafranil), indicated for adults and children over 10 years of age.
  • Fluvoxamine, used in adults and children over 8 years of age.

Recommendations for treating obsessive compulsive disorder

Finally, we will give you some recommendations that you need to consider, together with the specialist when accepting a treatment for OCD.

  • The purpose of choosing a medication to treat this disorder is to control the symptoms with the lowest possible dose. So it is possible, that the specialist indicates more than one drug to obtain a better result. Also, improvement can be seen after a few weeks or months.
  • Psychotropic drugs have side effects. Therefore, you should consult with the doctor about them, to be able to have knowledge if any were to appear.
  • All antidepressants have a warning in a black box. However, in some cases, suicidal thoughts or behaviors may occur during the first weeks after starting treatment or when the dose is changed.
  • When consulting with the specialist, it should be specified if any other medication has been taken, either indicated or over-the-counter. Above all, because some antidepressants can cause a reaction when combined with specific medications.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *