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What Is OCD?

writtenByWritten by: Leah McCabe
Leah McCabe

Leah McCabe

Leah likes writing about health and science subjects. Through her writing she hopes to help people of all backgrounds have equal access to information and quality healthcare.

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December 9, 2020 Read Time - 5 minutes

What Is OCD?

Do you think you might have OCD? What is OCD? What is the treatment? Are there different types of OCD?

At PlushCare, we care about your mental health in addition to your physical health, so we’ve compiled some information about OCD to help you out. 

Read on to learn more about OCD and how you can get help and get your life back.

What Does OCD Mean?

OCD is short for obsessive-compulsive disorder, a mental illness that causes repeated unwanted sensations or thoughts (obsessions) or the urge to do something repeatedly (compulsions).

Obsessions or compulsions must take up at least an hour of your day and interfere with your life to qualify for an OCD diagnosis. 

What Are the 4 Types of OCD?

There are 4 main types of OCD:

  • Contamination – A compulsion to clean or a fear of things being dirty. There’s also a type of “mental contamination” for those who feel they’ve been treated like dirt.
  • Intrusive thoughts and ruminations – These obsessive thoughts may be violent or disturbing. 
  • Checking – A constant need to check things like ovens, alarm systems, locks, light switches or thinking you have a medical condition.
  • Ordering and symmetry – A need to have things lined up a certain way. 

Do I Have OCD?

Obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviors can be symptoms of other conditions, or they may not be severe enough for a diagnosis of OCD.

Here’s what you should know about OCD to get a better idea of whether you might have it. 

OCD Definition

According to the American Psychiatric Association, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder where people have recurring unwanted ideas, thoughts, or sensations (obsessions) that make them feel like they must do something repetitively (compulsions).

The repetitive behaviors, such as checking on things, hand washing, or cleaning, can significantly interfere with a person’s social interactions and daily activities.

OCD Symptoms

OCD symptoms include obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviors. While some people may only experience one type of symptom, most people with OCD experience both. 

Common obsessive thoughts include:

  • Fear of losing control and harming yourself or others
  • Excessive focus on moral or religious ideas
  • Symmetry and order: the thought that everything must line up “just right”
  • Fear of being contaminated by dirt or germs or contaminating others
  • Intrusive violent or sexually explicit images or thoughts
  • Fear of losing or not having things you might need
  • Superstitions; excessive attention to something considered lucky or unlucky

Common compulsive behaviors include:

  • Repeatedly checking on loved ones to make sure they’re safe
  • Spending a lot of time cleaning or washing 
  • Praying excessively or engaging in rituals triggered by religious fear
  • Excessive double-checking of things, like appliances, locks, and switches
  • Tapping, counting, repeating certain words, or doing other senseless things to reduce anxiety
  • Arranging or ordering things “just so”
  • Accumulating “junk” like empty food containers or old newspapers 

OCD Treatment

If a psychiatrist diagnoses you with OCD, treatment may include one or more of the following:

  • Relaxation through things like meditation, yoga, or massage may help relieve stress and anxiety
  • Psychotherapy, especially cognitive behavioral therapy, can help change thinking patterns. 
  • Medication may help reduce symptoms of OCD, although it typically takes a few months for the medication to start helping.
  • Neuromodulation changes the electrical behavior in certain areas of your brain and may help if everything else fails.

Read: Get Luvox Online

OCD Medication

Sometimes, OCD is treated with anxiety medication or antidepressants.

OCD medication is not a cure-all but rather a method of symptom management to be used in combination with other techniques, such as behavioral therapy.

OCD medication can significantly reduce symptoms of OCD. However, it’s important to note that the medication needs to build up in your system for a few weeks or months before you’ll start to notice a difference. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about OCD

Is OCD a Mental Illness?

Yes, OCD is considered a mental illness. It can be treated with medication and therapy. 

What is OCD Behavior?

OCD behavior involves a compulsive need to do something like wash your hands, check the stove, or count ceiling tiles. You may realize the behavior doesn’t make sense, but it’s the only way to relieve your anxiety. 

What Triggers OCD?

What Causes OCD? According to the Mayo Clinic, there are 3 potential causes for OCD:
Biology. OCD could be the result of changes in your brain chemistry.
Learning. Compulsive behaviors or obsessive thoughts may be learned by watching others. 
Genetics. OCD may be inherited, although a specific gene hasn’t been located yet. 

What Are Some Examples of OCD?

Some examples of OCD include frequent hand washing (to the point your hands are raw), intrusive thoughts about hurting somebody, and needing to have everything organized in a very specific way. 

What Are OCD Intrusive Thoughts?

OCD intrusive thoughts are unwanted thoughts that assault you at all hours of the day. You don’t want the thoughts, and you can’t seem to get rid of them no matter how hard you try. 

PlushCare Can Help With OCD

With PlushCare, you can get OCD treatment online.

You can have a phone or video appointment with one of our trusted doctors, they can diagnose you, and then, if medically necessary, they can send a prescription to your local pharmacy.

A PlushCare doctor can also refill your prescription medication when you run out.

Simply click here or call (888)798-0620 to get started. 

OCD Test

Welcome to your OCD Quiz

Answer the question below as accurately as possible. At the end your score will be calculated and we will advise you on your next steps.

Do you ever clean excessively due to a fear of germs?
Do you experience repetitive thoughts that cause anxiety?
Do you repeat routine actions such as putting on a shoe, opening a door, or getting into bed over and over until it “feels right?”
Do you inspect the trash before throwing it out to see if you missed something important?
Do you feel a need to seek reassurance on something you did or said?
Do you have intrusive thoughts that are aggressive or taboo?
Do you feel a need to ensure things are in their proper order? (rearranging drawers, cataloging books, lining up silverware, etc.)
Do you have rituals that provide temporary relief for your anxiety, like checking, counting, or cleaning?
Do you worry about harm coming to loved ones because you weren’t careful enough?
Do you struggle to control compulsive behaviors or obsessive thoughts?
Do you avoid certain numbers or colors because you view them as “evil?” or “unlucky”?
Do you unnecessarily re-read emails, letters, or text messages before or after sending them?
Are home life, work, or relationships affected by your ritual behaviors or obsessive thinking?
Do you experience disturbing mental images of destruction, death, or other unpleasant events?
Do you spend at least 1 hour every day performing ritual behaviors or thinking obsessive thoughts?
Do you examine your body for signs of illness?

Read More About OCD


The International OCD Foundation. What Is OCD? Accessed on April 16, 2020 at

WebMD. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Accessed on April 16, 2020 at

American Psychiatric Association. What Is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder? Accessed on April 17, 2020 at

HelpGuide. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Accessed on April 17, 2020 at

Mayo Clinic. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Accessed on April 17, 2020 at

Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog. The PlushCare blog, or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. For more information click here.

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