Do you really have OCD, or do you just like things clean or in order?

With all of the information available through the internet and media these days, self-diagnosis seems increasingly common.  Many people believe they have OCD because they feel stressed when their surroundings aren’t clean or organized, or when their usual routines are changed or interrupted.  Although many people experience some symptoms or traits of OCD, approximately 2% of the population have severe enough symptoms to warrant a clinical diagnosis.

Clothes on hangers arranged by color

Here are 7 signs that you may have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder:

1) Severe “Germophobia”

– this is more than just washing your hands a lot — you have extreme fears of catching a disease or spreading germs.  You may clean and scrub your hands/clothes/dishes/etc.  until they sparkle, and just a bit more.

Woman with gloves spraying cleansing solution to a sponge
2. Ordering, arranging and perfectionism

– things just have to be “just so” (e.g., symmetrical or “perfectly” neat and tidy), and you feel the need to do everything perfectly, and without mistakes.  For example, the cans in your pantry are in alphabetical order and you will re-arrange them when you have to add a can of corn, or you may write and re-write letters and emails until they are “perfect”.

Some kids organized this ballpit by color
3. A routine of rituals:

repeating actions unnecessarily, like feeling compelled to turn the lights on and off a certain number of times when you get home, feeling the need to count objects in your environment, always having to do things in the same order, or repeating words/phrases over and over.

4.Obsessive thoughts about unwanted sexual acts

– upsetting thoughts or images of a sexual nature that won’t go away and that don’t align with your values and morals, thus causing distress.  You may believe that having these thoughts means you are a “bad person” or “crazy”.

5. Checking again, and again, and again

– you feel really anxious until you’re 110% certain the stove is off or the door is locked (maybe even driving home from work to check), and you are particularly concerned about being responsible for causing harm if you aren’t careful enough.

6. Extreme superstitions

– for example, having “lucky” numbers and feeling very uncomfortable if the alarm or microwave isn’t set to that number, or doesn’t always follow the same pattern,  avoiding stepping on cracks, etc.

7. Obsessions with violence

– repeated unwanted thoughts of causing harm to yourself or others, and/or extreme fears that you may have caused harm to someone unintentionally (e.g., hitting them with your car).

If you are struggling with any of these difficulties, you don’t have to continue to suffer.  Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, or CBT, is scientifically proven to help most  individuals suffering with OCD.  CBT can help you understand how to cope effectively with your negative or upsetting thoughts, and how to stop your compulsive rituals.

Contact The Mindful Living Centre today, where our team of Clinical Psychologists can help empower you to live better!

Please note: this article is for informational purposes only, and is not intended as a substitute for therapy or advice from a qualified professional.