The Different OCD Spectrum Disorders & Symptoms

OCD is a specific anxiety disorder that is characterized by obsessive thoughts that the sufferer tries to combat with repetitive rituals. There are other diseases that have similarities to OCD; these diseases are called OCD spectrum disorders. Usually, the different OCD spectrum disorders have an element of obsessive behavior.

Learning what disorders fall under this category can be helpful as similar treatment can be used to help a sufferer overcome the disorder. Cognitive behavioral therapy is seen as one of the more effective methods to deal with an OCD anxiety disorder. This type of therapy can be used to treat other disorders that are similar to OCD.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is an obsession with the appearance of the body. A person who suffers from this condition may obsess about a flaw in their appearance on their body and feel a disproportionate sense of anxiety about this flaw. Sometimes the flaw is completely imaginary but the anxiety is no less real.

This is one of the OCD spectrum disorders that include compulsions. A person may avoid mirrors or spend hours examining a flaw. A sufferer might also wear clothes to try and hide the perceived flaw. Cognitive behavioral therapy is very effective in helping someone with BDD.


Trichotillomania is one of the OCD spectrum disorders that is not often associated with OCD but does have similarities in that it involves compulsive behavior. A person suffering from this disorder will pull out hair, constantly, to the point that hair loss is noticeable.

Stress and emotional tension can be a trigger for this behavior. However this is not always the case, a person can start pulling hair from their body even when they are relaxed without feeling stressed. This behavior can sometimes be unconscious; treating the disorder relies on helping the individual to become more conscious of the habit.


Hypochondria is one of the more commonly known OCD spectrum disorders. A person with this disorder may visit doctors constantly, sometimes seeing more than one doctor in a day. A sufferer may also think they are suffering from a serious health problem when they feel they are experiencing a symptom.

Someone with this type of OCD spectrum disorders might think they are having a heart attack if they experience mild chest pains. Cognitive behavioral therapy is the best way to treat hypochondria due to its many similarities to OCD. The obsessions and compulsions of hypochondria respond well to this kind of therapy.

Symptoms of OCD – What signs to look out for

Symptoms of OCD can vary but the main theme starts with an obsession. Obsessions are ideas or thoughts that run through our minds repeatedly. Though we may be aware of their repetitive nature and decide that we do not want them around, we do not have the capacity to control and shelve them. There are some people who have OCD who experience ‘obsession’ once in a while. However, there are others whose obsessive symptoms, feelings, and thoughts are felt 24/7.

The second of the symptoms with OCD is a compulsion. By compulsion, we are referring to the acts or behaviors that people assume in order to get rid of the fear or anxiety over a certain obsession. More often than not, these compulsions are grounded on a set of personal predetermined rules, which must be followed with full accuracy and precision. A person who has the symptoms of OCD is very keen on detail, especially during an ‘attack’.

What Are The Symptoms That Someone Has OCD?

The most popular obsessions include an unreasonable concern with symmetry and order, incessant worry about how a particular activity or job is carried out, the need for reassurance at all times, and the thinking of certain numbers or words all the time, among others. If you have seen the film “The Aviator”, you will notice that the main character, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, suffered from an extreme form of obsessive compulsive disorder.

The compulsions, also called the rituals, that characterize obsessive compulsive disorder are done in an attempt to assuage the anxiety and fear felt over a certain obsession.

This is why some people like to count from one to ten three times out loud before doing a particular task, or why some feel that tossing a nickel three times before entering a building will bring safety and luck. These rituals do not necessarily work, but these symptoms of behavior give a person this weird belief that they will and continue doing so without really knowing why it has to be that particular ritual.

These rituals, however, only bring temporary relief, and so a person who has OCD finds himself or herself repeating the same thing over and over again. The anxiety and fear have become so ingrained into him that he has trouble controlling it from happening. Some people find this silly. But it’s actually a rather serious matter.

In sum, the best way for us to determine what kind of help a person who has OCD needs is to gain a better level of understanding of the ailment, in order for us to identify the symptoms before the symptoms become full-blown and more difficult to address. It is our duty as friends and loved ones of people who have OCD to help them overcome the problem. If you notice the above symptoms or something like them, seek help at once.

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