What Are the Common Compulsions in OCD

By November 10, 2021 No Comments

Types of Compulsions in OCD: What You Need to Know

Treatment of OCD

OCD is a chronic anxiety disorder; known as an obsessive-compulsive disorder. People with OCD have unwanted and recurring thoughts, desires, and images, called obsessions. These obsessions cause severe anxiety and cause interruptions in an individual’s everyday life. What are the common compulsions in OCD here we discussed.

To alleviate the anxiety, people with OCD carry out actions that provide security, called compulsions. Now, these compulsions can either be mental or physical. Mental compulsions include chanting, repeating phrases, verbal affirmations, whereas physical compulsions include but are not limited to checking, repeatedly re-performing tasks, and cleaning, etc.

As no one person can be identical, the same goes for people suffering from OCD. Every person’s symptoms differ from one another. Thus, the obsessions and compulsions faced by individuals also vary. Here we will discuss the different types of compulsions:

Contamination & Cleaning:

The need to clean is the compulsion though the obsession might be the fear of contamination and diseases. The fear of contamination leads to excessive cleaning, which can be washing one’s hand or scrubbing a surface a certain number of times to be satisfied. The urge to keep one’s surroundings clean can be exhausting and a hassle in one’s life, specifically when one is in unfamiliar places.


The reason behind this compulsion might be to prevent damage, fire, and bodily harm to oneself or a loved one. People with OCD might frequently check the door locks or unplug the iron until there’s a feeling of certainty and they feel secure. The primary obsession is not to prevent harm but also to avoid guilt in case of an accident. Their thoughts do not let them rest until there’s a feeling of security that they may not even feel fully secure after re-checking again and again.


The inability to discard worn-out and useless belongings is another compulsion known as hoarding, and the obsessive worry behind it is to lose or throw away something important. People with OCD have a hard time letting go because of the fear, they might lose important possessions that may be, needed later. These actions warrant the prevention of the guilt that may follow in unknown circumstances.

Symmetry & Orderliness:

The urge to follow symmetry and to carry out actions orderly is the compulsion, whereas the obsessive worry behind it is to avoid discomfort. This repetitive response can come out as hanging pictures straight, hanging clothes in a specific way, etc. These actions can be time-consuming to a fault, which can make day-to-day activities difficult. The individual suffering from OCD might even avoid social gatherings in their space to prevent the disruption of the orderliness which can harm their relationships.

The Bottom Line

These are some of the compulsions that manifest in response to obsessions. It is necessary to understand that not everyone with OCD will have the same set of symptoms or that those symptoms will present in the same way in two individuals. Thus, it’s essential to seek help from a professional mental health provider who can provide treatment according to one’s needs.

Are you looking for professional help?

We are licensed professional counselors who work with patients dealing with OCD and other anxiety disorders. We use evidence-based behavioral treatments such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) therapy to help ease your OCD compulsions. For more information, please feel free to reach out.

Let us help you cope with OCD!

Leave a Reply