Written by Dr. Suveetha, Clinical Psychologist 

Edited & Coordinated by Arathi Nair 

An unorganized place? Pressure to perform better than the best? Washing your hands twice to be sure? Or the pandemic germs?

We understand some triggers related to OCD has brought you here. But what exactly is OCD? How does this affect our day to day activities? Let’s find out!

OCD is a mental disorder that evokes intrusive thoughts, sensations, and emotions followed by the compulsion to do or act upon something over and over again.   

It is likely that they do not succeed at what they do and are stuck in an endless loop of unwanted thoughts and compulsive behavior. Being bombarded with a surplus of unwanted thoughts in times of crisis is something many of us would have experienced. We have all been there, and it is quite normal. But how much of these thoughts are normal?  

Intrusive thoughts are one of the contributory factors or symptoms of having depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.  Most often, intrusive thoughts, feelings and sensations and OCD thoughts are confused for the same. The mild difference is that not everyone with intrusive thoughts has OCD, but everyone with OCD might experience intrusive thoughts. In this blog, let us discuss a few common patterns in OCD.  

With that being said, let us look at the five most common types of intrusive thoughts. 

1) Contamination fear 

This is the most common kind of intrusive thoughts in OCD. The person constantly worries about contacting germs or spreading germs and indulges in compulsive behaviour like washing, and cleaning.  

Compulsive avoidance of contaminated objects like faeces, urine, dust or germs is also seen. This compulsive fear and avoidance are accompanied by anxiety as these objects are a part of our day to day lives.  

2) Pathological doubt 

This is a constant pattern of self-doubt followed by worry and compulsively checking. These self-doubts revolve around patterns like forgetting to lock the doors, forgetting to switch off the stove and much more. This is followed by the person compulsively checking the doors and stove.  

It is common in people with pathological doubt patterns to feel guilty about having committed something wrong all the time.   

3) Intrusive thoughts  

There are majorly two patterns of intrusive thoughts seen in people with OCD 

  • Violent thoughts 

These thoughts include thinking about indulging in harmful behaviour like hitting, stabbing, killing and hurting someone. Most of the time, these thoughts come out of fear of hurting friends, family members, a pet or someone the person knows.  

  • Sexual obsession 

These are obsessive thoughts on sex and thinking about acting upon immoral sex like rape, child abuse and more. Few might also undergo excessive worry and trouble identifying with their sexual orientation.  

Suicidal feelings are also one common intrusive feeling for people undergoing this factor. 

4) Symmetry 

This is an extreme obsession with alignment and symmetry, i.e., wanting things to be arranged, aligned or set in a particular way. People with this pattern of OCD, involve in repetitive arranging and setting up of things in the way they want. This can slow up the way of doing day to day activities. For e.g., Shaving a particular pattern, and arranging things in a precise order.  

5) Other symptom patterns 

Religious obsession is an excessive obsession over religious affairs. People with religious obsessions always fear about committing or having committed acts of sins. They try to overcome the fear by continually indulging in obsessive spiritual ritual and prayers. 

Behavioural patterns like nail-biting and hair-pulling are also related to OCD. Masturbating compulsively is also linked to the obsessive-compulsive disorder.  

It is to be noted that a few incidents of exhibiting the above pattern do not mean that you have OCD. A professional diagnosis is needed to check if you have OCD and do not take the pretext of the above to conclude yourself as having OCD. 

How to cope with OCD? 

  1. Identify the pattern of intrusive thoughts and address the issue bothering you. 

2. Do not suppress your thoughts as they may act counteractively. 

3. Try distracting yourself in engaging in activities you enjoy doing. 

4. Be gentle with yourself and do not beat up and blame yourself for having these intrusive thoughts. 

5. Try talking with a trusted friend, family member or journal your thoughts.  

6. Spend time with nature and practise mindful techniques like praying and meditation to calm your mind.  

7. Seek professional help in the form of a therapist and psychiatrist to help you cope  

Remember that your thoughts can be controlled and you can get hold of your mind and behaviour. 

The above-collated information would have given you a gist of the fact that OCD is not trivial and that it is not okay to use the term ‘OCD’ for unrelated things in our day to day life. Let’s be compassionate and extend support to those who actually cope with the obsessive-compulsive disorder.  

If you find yourself sinking in unwanted thoughts, sensations and behaviour from time to time and find it hard to cope with everyday life activities, reach out to us. We will teach you to cope with OCD and lead a healthy life. 


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