10 Most Common Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Symptoms

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), an anxiety-driven condition, leaves a person at the mercy of uncontrollable thoughts, behaviors and rituals. While many people encounter nagging worries, such as forgetting to turn-off the coffee pot, the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder become so pronounced that it affects a person’s ability to carry out normal everyday tasks.

Not surprisingly, the 10 most common symptoms associated with the disorder stem from a root cause of anxiety. In an effort to relieve feelings of anxiety, persons afflicted by OCD may carry out repetitive behaviors, but experience little if any relief in the process. The condition seems to perpetuate itself by keeping a person embroiled inside an anxiety-producing mindset. Even in cases where a person knows a particular thought or behavior is irrational, he or she is unable to break free.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, most people affected by obsessive-compulsive disorder begin to experience symptoms by the age of 30. The cause of the condition remains unknown, though genetics appears to have some influence on whether a person will develop the disorder. Other suspected causes include head injuries, infections and abnormal activity in certain areas of the brain.

So without further adieu, here are the 10 most common symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder. The first two listed actually function as core symptoms that underlie and fuel OCD disorders.

 Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive compulsive disorder can leave you with uncontrollable behaviors.

  1. Obsessions – An uncontrollable thought or behavior is actually an obsession that consumes the person’s attention. For most people affected by obsessive-compulsive disorder, these obsessions are unwanted and over-powering.
  2. Rituals – Over time, obsessions turn into ritual behaviors that impair a person’s ability to function in everyday life. An example of this would be someone who goes through great effort to avoid stepping on cracks in the sidewalk. In effect, a person becomes obsessed with avoiding the cracks that any potential oncoming danger would go unnoticed.
  3. Hoarding – Hoarding behaviors involve stockpiling anything and everything or certain types of items in particular. Hoarding is done in an effort to relieve fears that something bad will happen if they throw something away. Even when a person knows they don’t need or use these items, the urge to hoard wins out.
  4. Checking and re-checking – For someone with obsessive-compulsive disorder, obsessive thoughts related to danger or harm drive them to check and re-check things, such as whether the stove is turned off or to ensure a lock is secure.
  5. Washing – One of the more commonly known symptoms associated with this condition, fear of germs or contamination drive a person to wash their hands repeatedly, multiple times a day.
  6. Counting & Arranging – An obsession with counting things like steps or ceiling tiles represents a person’s attempt to control the world around them. It’s also often driven by superstitious beliefs.
  7. Perfectionist – Someone with obsessive-compulsive disorder may need everything to be just perfect in order to prevent something bad from happening or to avoid being punished.
  8. Violent & sexual preoccupations – This symptom involves obsessive thoughts of harming one’s own family. A person can also have obsessive thoughts about engaging in sexual acts that actually repel him or her.
  9. Self-image preoccupations – Fear of social embarrassment may drive a person with obsessive-compulsive disorder to comb their hair for unusually long time periods or change their clothes repeatedly.
  10. Repetitive Actions – This symptom may take the form of saying the same phrase over and over again or performing certain physical activities, such as sitting and standing multiple times.


U.S. National Library of Medicine



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