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What Are the Types of OCD?

a person arranges pencils a symptom of one of the types of ocd

Movies and television shows often portray obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in characters through quirky traits like locking a door a few times. However, OCD can be a debilitating mental health disorder that disrupts daily life and causes severe mental stress. There are various types of OCD that affect people, causing them to react to the world around them differently.

People with OCD also often turn to drugs or alcohol to help ease their stress, leading to the vicious cycle of addiction. If you or a loved one struggles with co-occurring OCD and substance abuse disorders, Northpoint Recovery can help. Our recovery specialists develop your plan in an OCD treatment program to help you succeed in sobriety. Call us at 208.486.0130 today to get started.

What Is OCD?

OCD is a type of mental disorder that causes people to have intrusive thoughts, or obsessions, leading them to perform repetitive behaviors called compulsions. OCD can be mild, interfering with daily life, or so severe that it completely takes over a person’s life.

What Is OCD

It is a type of anxiety disorder, and people with OCD often feel like they have to perform their compulsions to ease their anxiety. However, the compulsions only provide temporary relief, and the anxiety eventually comes back.

This can cause a person to feel trapped as they keep repeating the same behaviors over and over. There are different areas that OCD triggers can focus on, which set the tone for what behaviors a person will engage in.

What Causes OCD?

What Causes OCD

The cause of OCD is not fully known, but it is thought to be a combination of environmental and genetic factors. Studies have shown that people with first-degree relatives with OCD are more likely to develop the disorder themselves.

Environmental factors may also play a role as some people with OCD report that stressful life events happened before the onset of their symptoms.

Brain structure may also be a factor, as people with OCD often have different brain activity than those without the disorder. Low serotonin levels, a brain chemical, have been linked to other anxiety disorders, which may be why people with OCD often respond well to medications that increase serotonin levels.

Symptoms of OCD

Signs of OCD to Look for

There are many different symptoms of OCD, as the disorder can present itself in various ways. The most common symptom is having obsessions, or intrusive thoughts, that cause anxiety.

People with OCD often try to control their anxiety by performing compulsions or repetitive behaviors. These compulsions can be mental, such as counting or repeating words in their head, or physical, such as washing their hands or cleaning.

Common behaviors of people with OCD include:

  • Having intrusive thoughts
  • Searching for symmetry
  • Rearranging things
  • Excessively washing themselves or their environment
  • Being unable to get things done because of their compulsions

These are just a few examples, as many different types of OCD can cause a person to behave in various ways.

Types of OCD

The Many Different Types of OCD

People can suffer from different types of OCD, each with its own set of symptoms. Some common types of OCD include:


Checking OCD causes people to have intrusive thoughts about something terrible happening, such as a fire breaking out or a loved one getting hurt. To ease their anxiety, they feel the need to check things repeatedly, such as the locks on a door or the stove.


This type of OCD is characterized by a fear of germs and dirt. People with contamination OCD often wash themselves or their environment excessively to avoid contact with contaminants.

Mental Contamination

Mental contamination is similar to regular contamination OCD, but instead of fearing physical contaminants, people with mental contamination OCD fear that their thoughts are contaminated. This can lead them to avoid people or situations that trigger their intrusive thoughts.


Fear of throwing things away characterizes hoarding OCD. People with this type of OCD may hold on to useless items, such as old newspapers or clothes, and have difficulty getting rid of them.


People with rumination OCD have intrusive thoughts that are usually negative and focus on themes such as death, religion, or sex. People with this type of OCD often engage in compulsions to try to ease their anxiety, such as praying or asking others for reassurance.

Intrusive Thoughts

Intrusive thoughts OCD is characterized by having intrusive and violent thoughts, such as harming oneself or others. People with this type of OCD often have compulsions to try to prevent their thoughts from coming true, such as avoiding knives or situations where they could hurt someone.

Treating OCD

Types of OCD Treatments

There are many different ways to treat OCD, as the disorder can be treated with medication, therapy, or a combination of both. Some common OCD medication brands are:

  • Luvox
  • Prozac
  • Zoloft
  • Paxil

These are just a few examples, as many different types of OCD medication can be prescribed by a doctor.

Co-occurring Disorder Treatment

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and exposure and response therapy (ERT) are popular treatment options for people with OCD. Many people also benefit from co-occurring disorder treatment, which focuses on treating mental health and substance abuse issues.

Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment at Northpoint Recovery

If you or someone you love struggles with OCD and addiction, our team can help. Treating your co-occurring disorders is our priority so you can begin leading a healthy, more manageable life.

Start your recovery journey today. Give us a call at 208.486.0130 to plan your path to sobriety.

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