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Six Signs of OCD: Understanding Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Written by Hannah Woods
Published on August 28, 2020

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health disorder in which people have recurring, unwanted thoughts, ideas, or sensations (obsessions) that make them feel driven to do something repetitively (compulsions). Most signs of OCD are discovered between the ages of 8 and 12 and between late teen years and early adulthood. 1 in every 100 adults struggles with OCD in the U.S., and about 1 in every 200 children and teens do. Although OCD can range from mild to debilitating, recognizing the signs is the first step in getting the treatment needed. Here are six signs that commonly appear when people are struggling with OCD:

1. Often think about harming yourself or someone else

Many people might have these thoughts of hurting themselves or others when something goes wrong in life. The difference is most people can recognize these as just thoughts. People with OCD are afraid they might act on these thoughts. The name for these thoughts is called aggressive compulsions. You might be fearful of being the cause of an accident or being the source of harm to another person. 

2. Constantly fear being contaminated by germs or contaminating others

Wanting to maintain good hygiene is normal; however, when the need to wash your hands, or the fear of catching germs, prevents you from doing activities you otherwise would like to do it could be a sign of OCD. You also may be afraid of certain bodily fluids, diseases, environmental contaminants, household chemicals, or dirt. 

3. Fear you might lose control

Everyone, at some point, might fear they are on the wrong path or fear they are not in control of their lives. If you have OCD, these might be consistent thoughts in your head. You might worry that you will act on impulse and harm yourself or others, have violent images or thoughts, be afraid of saying something on impulse that may be offensive or insulting, or being fearful of stealing something. 

4. Having unwanted sexual thoughts

Some people with OCD might struggle with having sexual thoughts that are forbidden or grotesque. You might have sexual thoughts or images in your mind, perverse impulses towards others, obsessions over sexual orientation, sexual obsessions that involve children or incest, or obsession over sexually aggressive behavior towards others. 

5. Having a religious obsession

The word for this subtype of OCD is Scrupulosity. This might mean that you have a fear of doing something that might be sinful or wrong in your religious practice. You could be concerned with offending God or be concerned with what is right or wrong concerning your morals. 

6. Having an obsession related to perfectionism

A lot of people have the tendency of wanting to do everything the correct way. If you have OCD, this might bring these needs to the next level. You might obsess over the evenness or exactness of a project, be concerned over needing to know or remember something, fear forgetting or losing information if you throw it out, and the inability to decide whether to keep or let go of something or the fear of losing things. 


If you or a loved one seem to struggle with any of these symptoms of OCD, O’Connor Professional Group offers mental health disorder services to help you find the best care for you. OCD is one of the most common subtypes of anxiety, so do not be afraid to reach out for help; you are not alone. Call (617) 221-8764 or learn more about scheduling a mental health care consultation to see how we can help.

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