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What are the 4 Types of OCD? Different Types of OCD

Types of OCD can be intrusive, unwanted thoughts, and ritualized, repetitive actions. Obsessions and compulsions can stress and complicate tasks. OCD is often triggered by anxiety and the desire to relieve stress through rituals or mental activities. A complex disorder with many symptoms and effects. Therapy, medication, or both are common treatments.

What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?

The mental disorder known as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by intrusive, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and ritualized, repetitive actions (compulsions). Obsessions and compulsions can cause stress and make it hard to do simple things. Anxiety and the desire to relieve distress through rituals or mental activities are common triggers for obsessive-compulsive disorder. It’s a complicated disorder with many symptoms and degrees of impact. Therapy, medication, or a combination are common treatment modalities.

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How Many Types of OCD Are There?

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a multifaceted mental illness that encompasses various manifestations. Although there are more than four distinct forms of OCD, the decision to focus on these four was made so that readers could gain a clear and comprehensive understanding of the most frequently encountered symptoms of the disorder.

It may be too difficult to cover all the subtypes in a single article, and the depth of information provided for each may suffer. This article aims to help readers understand the diversity within OCD by discussing four well-recognized and distinct subtypes and to help them recognize some of the most common themes experienced by individuals with the disorder.

A single person with OCD might exhibit symptoms that fall into more than one of these categories. The four OCD subtypes discussed here are meant to illustrate the wide variety of experiences people have with the disorder. Additional subtypes of OCD can be learned about by reading up on the disorder and its many forms.

What are the 4 Types of OCD?

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) has several subtypes or themes that can appear differently. Even though symptoms of OCD can overlap and change over time, here are four common ones:

  1. Contamination OCD: Individuals with this subtype are plagued by fears of germs, dirt, or contamination. They may engage in excessive cleaning, avoiding touching particular objects, or washing their hands repeatedly to reduce their anxiety.
  2. Checking OCD: People with OCD fear something terrible will happen if they don’t check things repeatedly. This could involve checking locks, appliances, or their bodies to ensure everything is safe and secure.
  3. Symmetry and Ordering OCD: This subtype involves an obsession with symmetry, order, and precise arrangement. Individuals with this type of OCD might feel compelled to arrange objects in specific ways, count things, or align-items symmetrically to alleviate their anxiety.
  4. Intrusive Thoughts OCD (Pure-O): Pure-O is characterized by intrusive, distressing thoughts, images, or impulses that are often violent, taboo, or irrational. These thoughts can be very distressing, and individuals may engage in mental rituals to try to neutralize them.

It’s necessary to consider that these subtypes are not mutually exclusive and that many people with OCD experience a mix of these themes. Also, not everyone with OCD fits neatly into these categories because the disorder can appear in many ways.

What Type of Disorder is OCD?

Anxiety disorders include obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). It’s characterized by intrusive, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and compulsive rituals of thought or action (compulsions). Because of the distress and disruption it causes daily, OCD can have a devastating effect on one’s ability to function and quality of life. Individuals displaying OCD symptoms should see mental health professionals for diagnosis and treatment.

Can Different Types of OCD be Treated?

Many forms of OCD are treatable. Psychotherapy, medication, and behavioral modifications are the standard approach to treating obsessive-compulsive disorder. Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) is a subset of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that has shown promise in treating obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). In exposure and response prevention (ERP), the person’s obsessive fears are gradually exposed to them, while the person’s compulsive behaviors are blocked.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and other medications are frequently used to treat OCD. These drugs can help lessen the impact of obsessive and compulsive behaviors.

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OCD Fact Sheet

OCD Overview

Obsessions with excessive ideas trigger recurrent behaviors (compulsions). Unreasonable worries and obsessions (compulsive behaviors) are hallmarks of obsessive-compulsive disorder.
OCD frequently centers on ideas like a dread of germs or the requirement to organize objects in a certain way. Symptoms typically appear gradually and change over time. Both conversation therapy and medication are used as treatments.

OCD Symptoms

Behavioral: compulsive behavior, agitation, compulsive hoarding, hypervigilance, impulsivity, meaningless repetition of own words, repetitive movements, ritualistic behavior, social isolation, or persistent repetition of words or actions.

Mood: Anxiety, apprehension, guilt, or panic attack.

Whole body: fatigue or sweating.

Also common: are food aversion, nightmares, or rumination.

OCD Treatments

  • Support group: A place where those pursuing the same disease or objective, such as weight loss or depression, can receive counseling and exchange experiences.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: A conversation treatment that aims to change the negative attitudes, actions, and feelings connected to psychiatric discomfort.
  • Counseling psychology: A subfield of psychology that handles issues with the self that are connected to work, school, family, and social life.
  • Anger management: To reduce destructive emotional outbursts, practice mindfulness, coping skills, and trigger avoidance.
  • Psychoeducation: Mental health education that also helps individuals feel supported, validated, and empowered
  • Family therapy: psychological counseling that improves family communication and conflict resolution.

Types of OCD Disorders

  • Contamination OCD.
  • Checking OCD.
  • Harm OCD.
  • Hoarding OCD.
  • Pure-O (Purely Obsessional) OCD.
  • Symmetry and Ordering OCD.
  • Sexual Orientation OCD.
  • Relationship OCD.
  • Religious OCD (Scrupulosity).
  • Health Anxiety OCD.

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Get a free mental health DIY OCD test. We Level Up network also provides complementary tests for depression, anxiety, bipolar, PTSD, mood disorder, and many other behavioral health quizzes.
Get a free mental health DIY OCD test. We Level Up network also provides complementary tests for depression, anxiety, bipolar, PTSD, mood disorder, and many other behavioral health quizzes.

Understanding Types of OCD

Discover the truth about Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). OCD is a condition marked by intrusive thoughts and repetitive behaviors. Explore how fears of contamination and doubt can lead to anxiety while washing, cleaning, and checking become coping mechanisms. Uncover the complexities of OCD and its impact on daily life.

OCD Statistics

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, is a term that is frequently used in casual conversation. For those who have obtained a clinical diagnosis, OCD is frequently perceived as an unusual trait rather than a severe mental health difficulty. It is frequently used to characterize picky behavior or is mildly neurotic in the public eye.

2.5 million

OCD affects 2.5 million adults, or 1.2% of the U.S. population.

Source: National Institute on Mental Health


The average age of onset is 19, with 25% of cases occurring by age 14. One-third of affected adults first experienced symptoms in childhood.

Source: ADAA


Women are 3x more likely to be affected than men.

Source: ADAA

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Disorders that are Similar to Types of OCD

Certainly, disorders that are similar to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) often share certain features of obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors, but they also have their unique characteristics and diagnostic criteria. Here are a few of these disorders:

  • Hoarding Disorder: People with hoarding disorder have persistent difficulty parting with possessions, leading to extreme clutter and functional impairment. This disorder is characterized by a strong need to save items, even if they have little or no value, and difficulty discarding them.
  • Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD): Individuals with BDD are preoccupied with perceived flaws or defects in their physical appearance. This obsession can lead to repetitive behaviors, such as checking the mirror excessively, seeking reassurance about their appearance, or attempting to hide the perceived flaw.
  • Trichotillomania (Hair-Pulling Disorder): This disorder involves the recurrent urge to pull out one’s hair, resulting in noticeable hair loss. It often occurs as a way to relieve tension, stress, or anxiety and can lead to significant distress and impairment.
  • Excoriation (Skin-Picking) Disorder: Individuals with this disorder engage in repetitive skin-picking behaviors, leading to skin lesions. Like other compulsions, picking provides temporary relief but can cause physical harm and distress over time.

Overcoming OCD symptoms can be a daunting endeavor when faced alone. It’s common for individuals to encounter setbacks during their recovery journey, trying to alleviate distressing thoughts and compulsions. However, with the right guidance and a strong support network, you can effectively manage OCD symptoms and achieve lasting relief through therapy and comprehensive treatment at We Level Up’s dedicated facilities. If you’re seeking guidance on your path to recovery, don’t hesitate to connect with our skilled professionals at We Level Up. Your call is both confidential and free, providing you with the support you need to overcome OCD challenges.

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Seeking OCD treatment and mental health professional help provides the best chance for long-term improvement and symptom management.
Seeking OCD treatment and mental health professional help provides the best chance for long-term improvement and symptom management.

Types of Therapy for OCD

Individuals suffering from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) can find relief from their symptoms and enhance their quality of life through various therapeutic approaches. Some of the most common therapeutic approaches for OCD are as follows:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This is the most widely used therapy for OCD. Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), a specific form of CBT, involves gradually exposing individuals to their obsessions and preventing the usual compulsive responses. This helps reduce anxiety and break the cycle of obsessions and compulsions.
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT): ACT focuses on helping individuals accept their intrusive thoughts without judgment and commit to behaviors that align with their values, even in the presence of anxiety.
  • Mindfulness-Based Therapy: This approach teaches individuals to be present in the moment and observe their thoughts without reacting to them. It can help reduce the distress caused by intrusive thoughts.
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): Originally developed for borderline personality disorder, DBT can also be effective for individuals with OCD. It emphasizes emotional regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness.
  • Exposure Therapy involves exposing individuals to their fears or triggers in a controlled environment to help them learn that their anxiety decreases over time without engaging in compulsions.
  • Medication: While not a form of therapy, medication can be a part of OCD treatment. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are commonly prescribed to help manage OCD symptoms.
  • Group Therapy: Group sessions provide a supportive environment where individuals can share their experiences, learn from others, and practice techniques together.
  • Family Therapy: Family involvement can be crucial, especially for children and adolescents with OCD. Family therapy helps educate family members about the disorder and provides strategies for supporting their loved one’s treatment.
  1. What types of OCD are there?

    There are several types of OCD, including contamination OCD, symmetry and ordering OCD, forbidden thoughts OCD, and hoarding OCD. Each type involves distinct patterns of obsessions and compulsions.

  2. Are there different types of OCD?

    Yes, there are different types of OCD, including contamination, symmetry, forbidden thoughts, and hoarding OCD, each with unique patterns of obsessions and compulsions.

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Learn About OCD and Take a Look at the 4 Most Common Types of OCD Video

Video Script

There are several categories of OCD, but these 4 types of OCD are the more commonly seen:

Troubling Thoughts
Not all forms of OCD involve obsessive actions. In some cases, OCD primarily consists of intrusive thoughts that interfere with daily life. In this case, these thoughts tend to be more forbidden, about disturbing or uncomfortable topics that cause distress. This form of OCD manifests as:

Intrusive thoughts that are damaging or upsetting.
The shame surrounding troubling thoughts.
Fear of acting on inappropriate thoughts.
Feelings of responsibility for harmful actions.
Fear of harming others, either intentionally or unintentionally.
An ongoing need for reassurance of being a good or worthy person.
Rituals are designed to expel or avoid negative thoughts.
Contamination and Cleaning
A fear of things that might be dirty or a compulsion to clean involves feelings of discomfort associated with contamination.

An obsession with cleanliness, both physical and mental
Fear of disease and biological materials
Avoidance of germ-ridden areas, like bathrooms and medical facilities
Ongoing cleaning of the body, clothing, and physical areas
Washing or cleaning rituals, often related to showering or hand washing
Ordering and Symmetry
The need to have things lined up, organized, or symmetric in a certain way. It can also involve thinking or repeating sentences or words until the task is completed perfectly.

A compulsive need to organize things in a particular way
An obsession with symmetry using criteria like size or color
Counting of objects, sometimes repetitively
Rituals surrounding organizing objects
Panic or anxiety when things aren’t correctly organized
Persistent, repeated, unwanted thoughts
Involves extreme feelings or worry that you’ll harm yourself or others. To relieve your distress, you might use what’s known as checking rituals.

A compulsive need to check alarm systems, locks, ovens, or light switches
Thinking you have a medical condition like pregnancy or schizophrenia
Persistent fear of harming others or yourself.

Search We Level Up What are the 4 Types of OCD? Different Types of OCD Resources

[1] NIMH – Learn More: Types of OCD

[2] Obsessive-compulsive disorder. National Institute of Mental Health. Accessed Sept. 3, 2019. Learn More: Types of OCD

[3] Mental health medications. National Institute of Mental Health. Accessed Aug. 13, 2019. Learn More: Types of OCD

[4] AskMayoExpert. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Mayo Clinic; 2019. Learn More: Types of OCD

[5] Depression basics. National Institute of Mental Health. Accessed Sept. 4, 2019. Learn More: Types of OCD

[6] Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Merck Manual Professional Version. Accessed Sept. 3, 2019. Learn More: Types of OCD

[7] Obsessive-compulsive disorder. National Alliance on Mental Illness. Accessed Sept. 3, 2019. Learn More: Types of OCD

[8] Suicidality in children and adolescents being treated with antidepressant medications. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Accessed Aug. 13, 2019. Learn More: Types of OCD

[9] Obsessive-compulsive disorder. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5. 5th ed. American Psychiatric Association; 2013. Accessed Sept. 3, 2019. Learn More: Types of OCD

[10] Coping with Stress – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Learn More: Types of OCD

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