Obsessive-compulsive disorder has become somewhat of a stereotype in many people’s vernacular. When one likes things neat and tidy, they may say “I’m so OCD” without thinking about the implications of that, or that it’s an actual condition.
There are many symptoms of OCD that people are well aware of. These include things like ritualistic behavior, repetition, and anxiety based on change or loss. But what about symptoms that aren’t as common?
If you don’t recognize OCD symptoms in yourself or a loved one, it’s hard to know when it’s time to seek treatment.
Remember, OCD breaks down into obsession and compulsion. What kinds of things fit into these categories that aren’t normally considered OCD symptoms?
You don’t have to figure it out on your own. We’re here to talk about some lesser-known OCD symptoms so you can make an informed decision about your mental health. Read on for more.
One thing that many people don’t recognize as an OCD symptom is excessive self-analysis or a need to figure things out about the self.
This means that the person with OCD may try to assess everything about themselves until they feel comfortable with the idea that everything is “okay”. They may analyze their actions (“why did I do that?”) or emotions (“why did I feel sad about this event?”) and once they feel satisfied with their analysis, they’ll no longer be in distress.
While this isn’t a bad thing per se, this process takes up a lot of time and energy. It isn’t always possible to finish the analysis as some things don’t have clear explanations. This makes the distress worse.
Have you ever had to re-read a sentence or phrase, or even an entire page, before you felt satisfied? This can happen with books, documents, or even the subtitles on a show or movie.
OCD can cause you to become stressed about whether or not you’re understanding something correctly. To ease this stress, you may read the thing in question over and over until you feel that you’ve gotten everything that you can out of it.
Again, this isn’t bad on paper, but it makes everything take much longer.
People with OCD are often perfectionists. Many people see perfectionism as a good trait, but when it’s compulsive it turns into a serious problem.
This applies to the re-reading issue. Someone with OCD wants to make sure that they’re understanding everything perfectly before they move forward. Not doing that gives them stress.
This applies to everything. Painting, writing, schoolwork, even doing the perfect parallel parking job. Everything has to be “just-so” or it’s not good enough.
For the perfectionist, nothing is ever good enough, so they never release that stress.
Policing Other People
People with OCD don’t only police themselves and demand that personal perfection. They may begin to police the people around them as well.
These people want everything to be perfect. They can’t control others, however, so this creates rifts in the perfection that they’re unable to fix. To resolve this, they can display controlling behavior.
They may turn conversations into rituals. If someone doesn’t respond the way that they expect, they may try to correct them or re-route them in a way that fits into their perfect narrative. This can also happen during any time where the person with OCD feels slighted or experiences something that they deem an injustice.
Did someone else not get punished for the same mistake at work that you were punished for? Did someone else get a larger raise than you for no reason?
These injustices need to be corrected or the person with OCD can’t rest.
Repetitive Intrusive Thoughts
Everyone encounters intrusive thoughts from time to time. These are thoughts that are unusual and uncommon for the person experiencing them. They may be violent, overly-sexual, anxious, or “disturbing” in some way.
Someone with OCD, though, experiences these thoughts and gets stuck in them. They get caught in repetitive thought patterns. While the average person is able to let the thought pass over them, the person with OCD feels the need to over-analyze them.
Why are the thoughts there? What do they mean? Do I really feel this way?
A Need for Reassurance
People with OCD experience anxiety, and instead of self-soothing, they need reassurance from the people around them.
If someone is experiencing thoughts that their partner is leaving them, for example, despite there being no evidence to suggest this, they may need verbal reassurance that this isn’t happening, complete with evidence and emotional support.
They may encourage reassurance without asking for it. They’ll make a statement like “I hope that my job evaluation goes well” and wait for others to console and validate them.
This also relates to everyday activities, and it isn’t always verbal. If the person with OCD is anxious about an event but no one else seems anxious, this reassures them that they shouldn’t feel that way either.
The Feeling of Being “Bad”
The actions of people with OCD often stem from the feeling that they’re somehow bad or unworthy. Some people worry that they’re violent, or that they’ve done something terrible even when this hasn’t happened.
This leads people to confess to every small thing, even things that other people wouldn’t consider a problem. Things as small as stealing a pen from work can trigger intense feelings of guilt or shame.
Some people feel as though they’re definitely going to cause a car accident someday, and that this event is inevitable. They may worry that they’ve hit a person or an animal during their drive, and pull over to look for any evidence that supports that thought.
Do These Symptoms of OCD Sound Familiar?
Some symptoms of OCD aren’t as identifiable as the obvious ones, and they are often misdiagnosed as another condition. They mimic the symptoms of trauma and mood disorders.
If you think that you or a loved one is displaying signs of OCD, it’s a good idea to get a formal diagnosis so you can receive treatment. You don’t have to manage it on your own.
If you’re seeking treatment for OCD in San Diego, the Mental Health Center of San Diego wants to help. Our compassionate and qualified professionals know how to treat and support people with OCD. Contact us today so we can get to know you and start working on your treatment plan.