The Different Types Of OCD

February 20, 2021   •  Posted in: 

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition that involves obsessive behavior such as unwanted thoughts and ideas that disrupt your thought patterns and your life and make it very hard for you to focus on other things; and compulsive behavior which involves symptoms where you have to do things in a specific way in a response to the obsessions.

OCD is very common, with it affecting more than 2% of the population, which is more than 1 in 50.

There is no official classification of different types, research suggests people who experience symptoms of OCD fall into five categories:

These are:

  • Washers – washing hands continuously to avoid germs and dirt.
  • Checkers – very concerned about the possibility of harm and so double and triple check everything.
  • Forbidden thoughts – they experience continual taboo thoughts often with a sexual, violent, or religious nature.
  • Symmetry and order – they need everything to be perfectly ordered and “just right”.
  • Hoarders – don’t throw things away as they feel something bad will happen if they do.

Each of these types has slightly different symptoms.


The types of symptoms that may occur with people who are concerned with cleaning and contamination are persistent worry about germs or sickness; thoughts about being very dirty or very unclean; avoidance of certain types of possible contamination; the compulsion to get rid of items that appear dirty – even if they aren’t dirty; compulsions to continue to wash items perceived as dirty; persistent fears about exposure to potential viruses or toxic substances. They may also experience feelings of being unclean and even worry about being mentally unclean.


People who are “checkers” worry that if they don’t repetitively check things they can ultimately attempt to prevent anything bad happen. They feel if they continue to check a certain number of times it can help to prevent any looming disaster. They will, for example, check the locked door, check that they’ve turned the stove off, or continually test the car door to check that it is locked. This behavior becomes obsessive about the checking and can even have a need to check a certain number of times before they are satisfied.

Forbidden thoughts

People who suffer from this type of OCD will often have reoccurring thoughts of a violent, religious or sexual nature. They will feel guilt and shame about these thoughts. They worry constantly that they will act on these thoughts and harm someone else without meaning to. They are concerned that they are a bad person because they are having these thoughts, even if they don’t act on them. They may even go as far as to hide anything in their house that could be used as a weapon to help themselves not to act out on these thoughts. They may use mental rituals to help them to cancel out these thoughts.

Symmetry and ordering

They have a need for everything to be aligned in a certain way; they have an extreme need of symmetry and the exact order in things; and they may also need asymmetry in actions too – for example, if you scratch your right elbow, then you need to scratch your left one too. Other common symptoms of those that need symmetry and order are feeling incomplete unless items are “just right”; they feel the need to count certain things like a ritual such as counting to a specific number, a specific number of times before carrying on with another action. They will also sometimes have a belief that if everything is ordered and perfect, then nothing bad will happen.


Hoarders will worry that if they throw something away, it may cause harm to someone else. They may feel that if they collect things, it will help to protect themselves and others from potential harm. There is also often the fear that they may throw away something that one day they may need, and so they will hoard most things in case of a need for future use. They may even feel incomplete if something of theirs has been thrown away. They could also have the compulsion to buy many of the same items, even if it is not needed. Hoarders also often like to review and check all the items that they have as this brings them comfort.

Another subtype of OCD is behavioral tics, these include things like shrugging, throat-clearing, blinking, and twitching. These tics may help to relieve the unwanted sensations and feelings of distress that can occur with OCD.

Treatment for OCD

OCD can take over your life and affect every area of it. It can ruin relationships, your work, and even your hobbies and things you enjoy outside of work. The Center • A Place of HOPE can help you. It is important that you receive whole-person care that looks at all aspects of your life. Your mind, body, and spirit.

The programs at The Center • A Place of HOPE are tailored to meet your individual needs exactly where you are at. They take the time to get to know your story, your background, and the things in your life that have contributed to your OCD.

OCD is a mental illness but it is treatable. At The Center • A Place of HOPE, their care can help you to take control of your life again and regain your balance.

The Center • A Place of HOPE can also help you to become free from the symptoms of OCD-related stress; OCD-related depression; OCD-related bipolar disorder and other co-existing conditions brought on by the OCD.

The Center • A Place of HOPE has an experienced team made of psychiatrists, psychologists, medical doctors, counselors, eating disorder specialists, chemical dependency counselors, registered nurses, dieticians, and nutritionists as well as fitness trainers.

The Center • A Place of HOPE can help, you just need to take the first step to get in touch and start your journey to wellness.

OCD frequently asked questions

If you still have questions about OCD itself and what the different types are and how they manifest; or if you have more questions about the treatment The Center • A Place of HOPE provides then please view our OCD Treatment Program.

Dr. Gregory Jantz

Pioneering Whole Person Care over thirty years ago, Dr. Gregory Jantz is an innovator in the treatment of mental health. He is a best-selling author of over 45 books, and a go-to media authority on behavioral health afflictions, appearing on CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, and CNN. Dr. Jantz leads a team of world-class, licensed, and...

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