Signs of OCD

The signs of OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) that are common to adults are also common to children and teenagers.

Obsessions and Fears about Dirt and Contamination

  • Unfounded fears of contracting a dreadful illness
  • Excessive concerns about dirt and germs
  • Feelings of revulsion about bodily waste and secretions
  • Obsessions about one's body (looking for signs of illness or disease)
  • Abnormal concerns about sticky substances or residues
  • Excessive, ritualized hand-washing, showering, bathing, or tooth-brushing
  • The unshakable feeling that household items, such as dishes, are contaminated and cannot be washed enough to be "really clean"

Need for Order or Symmetry

  • An overwhelming need to align objects "just so"
  • Excessive concerns about the neatness of one's personal appearance or one's environment
  • The need to repeat doing something until one gets it "just right"
  • Excessive list making and extreme organization

Hoarding or Saving Obsessions

  • Inspecting household trash in case some "valuable" item has been thrown out
  • Accumulating useless objects such as trash or items rescued from trash cans
  • The inability to discard anything because "you might need it later on"

Obsessions with Sexual Content

  • Unwanted sexual thoughts that one views as inappropriate and unacceptable
  • Fear of molesting a child (fear of doing something you have no desire to do)
  • Fears that one may be homosexual

Repetitive Rituals

  • Repeating routine activities for no good reason
  • Repeating questions over and over
  • Rewording or rewriting words or phrases

Religious Obsessions and Compulsions

  • Troublesome blasphemous or sacrilegious thoughts
  • Excessive concerns about morality and right or wrong

Obsessions with Aggressive Content

  • The fear of having caused some fatal tragedy
  • Repeated intruding images of violence
  • The fear of acting out a violent thought
  • The irrational fear of having hurt someone

Obsessions with Food and Weight

  • Preoccupation with foods or food measurements
  • Rituals involving food
  • Irrational fears that some foods are bad or must be avoided
  • Being overly concerned about one's weight

Superstitious Fears

  • The belief that certain numbers are "lucky" or "unlucky"
  • Behaviors based on superstitious beliefs

Checking Compulsions

  • Repeatedly checking to see if a door is locked or an appliance is turned off
  • Checking to make certain one has not harmed someone
  • Checking and rechecking for mistakes (homework, balancing a checkbook, etc.)
  • Excessive Doubt - Asking over and over for reassurance or checking and then checking again.

Other Common Compulsions

  • Pathological slowness in carrying out even the most routine activities
  • Blinking or staring rituals
  • A feeling of dread if some arbitrary act is not performed
  • The compulsive need to be verbal with someone else
  • The need to touch, tap or rub certain objects repeatedly
  • Counting compulsions
  • Mental rituals, such as reciting silent prayers, repeating certain phrases in a effort to make a bad thought go away

Source: Adapted from Brain Lock, Twentieth Anniversary Edition: Free Yourself from Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior by Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz, Regan Books, 1996, pp. xvii

Recognize yourself or your loved one?

If you or your loved one experience the signs of OCD above, it's important to discuss them with your family doctor especially if you have not been diagnosed with OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder). It's important, especially if you think your young child or teenager may be experiencing them as well. The sooner the signs of OCD are caught, the sooner treatment can be started.

Related Articles - Signs of OCD

Obsessively Informed: OCD Signs and Symptoms
How to spot the signs of OCD by By Suzan Clarke (ABC Television)

Return from Signs of OCD to OCD Symptoms

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