OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) is often associated with obsessive cleaning. However, there are 4 different types of OCD that exist.
OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) is a disorder that involves a person having irrational thoughts and fears that lead to compulsive behaviours.
This includes obsessive cleaning, arranging and organizing things, the need to wash hands constantly, etc. Now because people with OCD commonly obsess over cleanliness, the disorder has been largely associated with this behavior. However, that’s not the case. Did you know that there are actually 4 different kinds of OCD that exist? Today, we shed light on the same.
OCD Type 1: Contamination And Washing
In this type of OCD, people are concerned about contracting an illness/disease due to being physically unclean. Contaminants such as dirt, germs, viruses, and sometimes even blood, household chemicals, and sticky substances, scare people with this kind of OCD. They may go to extreme lengths to avoid visiting public places (bathrooms) or coming in contact with any sort of contaminants.
People with this type of OCD typically have the habit of sanitizing themselves as well as their surroundings constantly and getting rid of contaminated objects.
They may also keep changing their clothes frequently. Coming in contact with an ill person can result in feelings of fear, discomfort, disgust, etc in people with this type of OCD.
OCD Type 2: Accidental Harm And Checking
People with this type of OCD are extremely fearful about accidentally causing harm to themselves or others. As a result, they have a habit of constantly checking up on things such as whether the stove is switched off, whether they have kept sharp objects at a safe place, etc.
They are constantly filled with negative thoughts and concerns about causing damage or being a victim of it. Those battling this type of OCD are often doubtful about themselves and are uncertain about the future.
OCD Type 3: Symmetry And Arranging
Those having this kind of OCD are often termed as “perfectionists.” They have a habit of arranging and organizing things around them and won’t rest until their objective is met.
For example, if they see a stack of papers piled up haphazardly, they will take the time out to arrange it properly, making sure the papers are aligned and placed at an angle that appears neat and satisfactory.
Any sort of disorganization makes people with this kind of OCD feel uncomfortable instantly. They could also hone irrational beliefs related to their compulsive behaviours.
For example, “if I don’t reorganize my cupboard today, my mother is going to die crossing the road.” As a result, they feel obligated to complete certain tasks in order to make sure no harm is caused to them or their family. However, this kind of thinking is not commonly found in people having this type of OCD, but most certainly does exist.
OCD Type 4: Taboo Thoughts
This is a very unique type of OCD where individuals are consumed with taboo and dangerous thoughts. These include- molesting children, having sexual relations with family members, causing physical harm to others, indulging in offbeat religious practices, etc.
What’s strange is that people with this kind of OCD do not typically have a history of violence or abuse. It is just that their mind is filled with these thoughts that they are constantly having to battle.
Because people with this OCD recognize that their thoughts are dangerous, half their time goes into suppressing them and converting negative thoughts into positive ones. They also have a habit of reassuring their own behaviours and seeking validation from others.
For example- an individual may keep asking his/her loved ones about whether what they did was alright and in synch with social norms. They constantly obsess over whether their actions are acceptable and seek reassurance from others for it.
Though people with this OCD don’t act upon the thoughts that they have, they do tend to avoid situations where these thoughts can be triggered. For example, if a person has taboo thoughts of molesting children, he/she would avoid going to children’s’ birthday parties.
What causes OCD?
If you look up the causes of OCD online, you’ll come across the common ones such as hereditary, or the disorder being an outcome of other mental health illnesses such as depression and anxiety. But have you ever wondered about what really happens in the brain that causes OCD?
The research of neuroscience behind OCD shows that the root problem of this disorder lies in the communication gap between three brain areas- the cortex, striatum, and thalamus. The pathways that connect these areas of the brain are responsible for carrying out both the initiation and termination of behaviour.
Therefore researchers believe that it is an imbalance within these pathways that may cause obsessive thoughts and behaviours in individuals, thus resulting in OCD.
SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) can be helpful in treating OCD, and therefore it has been hypothesized that serotonin may play an important role in the disorder.
However, some researchers also believe that an imbalance in both serotonin, as well as dopamine levels, may be the root cause of OCD as the latter is also used by the pathways connecting the three brain areas mentioned above.