Living with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and the accompanying anxiety can be extremely challenging. It can feel like an endless game of whack-a-mole with your brain- every time you try to tackle (or avoid) a distressing thought pattern, another pops up in its place.

OCD can manifest in various forms, each with its unique set of symptoms and triggers. In this blog, we’ll delve into six types of OCD and explore the best treatment options, particularly Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

Types of OCD: A Closer Look

OCD manifests in a variety of forms. It often involves ritualistic or compulsive behaviors to gain short-term relief from distressing thoughts or anxiety. OCD-related compulsions can be observable by others (such as ritualistic behaviors or excessive hand-washing), or can happen entirely within a person’s head (such as compulsive rumination, mental “checking,” or thought blocking).

Here are six of the more common types of OCD:

  1. Contamination OCD: The Fear of Impurity

    Contamination OCD is perhaps one of the most recognized forms of OCD. Individuals with this type of OCD have an overwhelming fear of germs, dirt, or harmful substances. They may compulsively wash their hands, avoid touching specific objects, or engage in elaborate cleaning rituals to ease their anxiety.

  2. Checking OCD: The Need for Reassurance

    With Checking OCD, individuals experience persistent doubts about their actions, such as locking doors, turning off appliances, or ensuring their safety. They repeatedly check and recheck, seeking reassurance that nothing terrible will happen if they don’t.

    Checking behaviors can occur externally (e.g., walking around the house to check faucets), or internally (e.g., mental checking, worrying, or ruminating).

  3. Symmetry and Ordering OCD: The Quest for Perfection

    Symmetry and Ordering OCD, sometimes called “Just Right” OCD, revolves around the need for everything to be in perfect order. This can manifest in meticulous arranging, straightening, or aligning objects until they meet the individual’s perceived standards of perfection.

  4. Hoarding OCD: The Fear of Letting Go

    Hoarding OCD is characterized by an extreme reluctance to discard belongings, leading to the accumulation of excessive clutter. Individuals with this form of OCD often feel emotionally attached to their possessions and experience severe distress at the thought of parting with them.

  5. Intrusive Thoughts OCD: Battling Unwanted Ideas

    Intrusive Thoughts OCD involves distressing and unwanted thoughts, images, or urges that invade a person’s mind. These thoughts are typically violent, sexual, or taboo in nature and can lead to significant distress and guilt.

  6. Scrupulosity OCD: The Battle of Morality and Faith

    Scrupulosity OCD centers on obsessive worries related to morality, ethics, or religious beliefs. Individuals with this form of OCD may fear they have committed sins, blasphemed, or failed to live up to their moral or religious standards. This type of OCD can be particularly distressing for individuals who value their faith and moral integrity.

Treatment Options for OCD

The most successful treatment outcomes for OCD and anxiety involve a combination of ERP, CBT, and medication management. It is important to discuss options with a qualified provider to learn what OCD treatments will be the best fit for you.

Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) for OCD: Facing the Fear

ERP is widely considered the gold-standard treatment for OCD and anxiety. It involves gradually exposing individuals to anxiety-inducing thoughts or obsessions WITHOUT engaging in certain avoidance behaviors (such as mental rumination, checking, seeking reassurance, ritualistic behaviors, etc.).

Through gradual exposure and skillful practice, ERP can help individuals with OCD reprogram their brain’s hyperactive anxiety response and reduce its intensity over time.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for OCD: Changing Your Relationship to Thoughts

CBT is another evidence-based approach for treating OCD. It can help individuals get “unstuck” from thoughts and learn skills to stop anxiety-related mental analysis and worry. CBT skills help reduce the power of intrusive or unwanted thoughts and instills confidence to manage them effectively.

Conclusion: Taking Control of OCD

Living with OCD can be highly distressing, time-consuming, and frustrating. Fortunately, research-based treatments (such as ERP and CBT) have been proven to work with all types of OCD. Seeking help from a provider who specializes in OCD is a crucial step toward regaining control of your life.

If you or someone you know is struggling with OCD, don’t hesitate to reach out to learn more about treatment options. Vivid Psychology Group offers OCD treatment in Denver, CO as well as virtual OCD treatment for most states.

Exposure Therapy