What Are The 4 Types of OCD (Obsessive compulsive disorder)


Types of OCD
Contamination OCD
Hoarding OCD
Harm OCD
Symmetry OCD
Helpful Products

- Contamination OCD
- Hoarding OCD
- Harm OCD
- Symmetry OCD

Contamination Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a subtype of OCD characterized by excessive fears and anxiety related to contamination from germs, dirt, toxins, or other harmful substances. Individuals with this condition often engage in compulsive behaviors, such as excessive hand-washing, cleaning, or avoiding certain places or objects, in an attempt to reduce their distress.

These fears and rituals can significantly interfere with daily life, causing substantial distress and impairing normal functioning.

Hoarding Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a subtype of OCD characterized by persistent difficulty in discarding or parting with possessions, irrespective of their actual value. Individuals with this condition experience a strong emotional attachment to items and often have excessive fears of losing something important, valuable, or potentially useful.

Consequently, they accumulate large amounts of clutter, leading to a disorganized and often unsanitary living environment. Hoarding OCD can significantly disrupt daily life, causing emotional distress, social isolation, and impairment in functioning.

Harm Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a subtype of OCD characterized by intrusive, unwanted thoughts, images, or impulses related to causing harm to oneself or others. These obsessions often induce intense feelings of guilt, fear, and distress, leading individuals to engage in compulsive behaviors or mental rituals to alleviate their anxiety.

Common compulsions may include seeking reassurance, avoiding certain situations or objects, or repeatedly checking to ensure no harm has been done. It is crucial to understand that Harm OCD is a mental health condition, and those affected have no genuine desire to act on these intrusive thoughts.

Symmetry Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a subtype of OCD characterized by a strong need for order, balance, and symmetry in one's surroundings or personal experiences. Individuals with this condition often experience intrusive thoughts and anxiety related to perceived imperfections or asymmetry, compelling them to engage in repetitive behaviors, such as rearranging objects, straightening items, or repeating actions until they feel "just right."

These compulsive behaviors aim to alleviate the distress associated with the perceived imbalance but can significantly interfere with daily life and functioning.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, commonly referred to as OCD, is a mental health condition that affects millions of people all over the world. This disorder can have a severe impact on the lives of those who suffer from it. If you or someone you know is living with OCD, understanding the four distinct types of OCD can be a helpful step in managing the condition.

This article will discuss the four types of OCD, their symptoms, and how to seek help if you or someone you care about is living with this disorder.

Here are the four types of OCD:

1. Contamination OCD

Contamination OCD

Contamination OCD is a subtype of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder that involves recurrent and obsessive thoughts, images, or impulses that lead to excessive concern about contamination, dirt, or germs. [1]

People with Contamination OCD often feel a strong urge to clean or avoid contaminated items, places, and people to reduce their anxiety. They may be preoccupied with the fear of spreading germs or catching an illness, resulting in compulsive behaviors like obsessively washing their hands, avoiding certain surfaces, cleaning items multiple times, or avoiding contact with certain people. Also, these repetitive behaviors can last for at least an hour or last for days. [1]

Did you know?

Individuals with a secure attachment style are less likely to develop OCD, demonstrating the importance of healthy emotional bonds in mental well-being.

2. Harm OCD

Harm OCD

Harm OCD is a form of OCD that involves magical thinking or unwanted obsessions of causing harm or making a mistake that could lead to the death or injury of oneself or another person. [2]

People with Harm disorder experience symptoms like extreme guilt, remorse, and anxiety related to their thoughts and may become fixated on certain “sins” or beliefs they have violated. [2]

Common compulsions associated with Harm OCD can include fear of speaking inappropriately, being overly responsible for the safety of others, feeling intense guilt over thoughts of accidentally hitting someone while driving, and obsessive thoughts about being a bad person. [2]

People with Harm OCD often try to suppress their thoughts and behaviorally avoid situations where they might be confronted with their fears. Unfortunately, this avoidance only reinforces their anxiety, failing to address the underlying issue. [2]

3. Hoarding OCD

Hoarding OCD

Hoarding OCD, or compulsive hoarding, is an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder that involves an inability to discard items, even those with no apparent value. People who suffer from hoarding disorder may obsessively collect things that have no practical use or value and find it difficult to part with them. Hoarding OCD can cause significant distress, leading to substantial impairment in the sufferer’s life. [3]

The OCD symptoms include:

People with hoarding disorder often struggle to organize their possessions, leading to further stress and discomfort. They may also experience feelings of embarrassment and shame, as well as social isolation due to embarrassment about their living situation. [3]

Helpful tip

Online therapy offers a convenient and effective way to explore the underlying causes of hoarding behaviors. Through professional guidance, you can gain insight, develop coping strategies, and work towards decluttering and creating a healthier living space.

4. Symmetry OCD

Symmetry OCD

Symmetry OCD, also known as Perfection OCD, is a type of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder that revolves around a person's need to arrange and organize items in a symmetrical or perfect order. Once it starts, the person feels compelled to arrange items in their home or workspace in a specific way and may become anxious if they are unable to do so. They may also become obsessed with aligning objects in a perfectly straight line, such as books on a shelf or chairs around a table. [4]

Additionally, people with Symmetry OCD may be overly concerned with the aesthetics of their home or workspace and may rearrange furniture and decorations in an attempt to create a “perfect” atmosphere. [4]

Common Manifestations of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a complex mental health condition characterized by recurring and distressing thoughts, known as obsessions, and repetitive behaviors, referred to as compulsions.

OCD can manifest in various ways, and understanding its common manifestations is crucial for recognizing the disorder and seeking appropriate help.

Contamination Obsessions and Cleaning Compulsions:

Checking Obsessions and Checking Compulsions:

Symmetry and Order Obsessions and Compulsions:


Intrusive Thoughts and Mental Rituals (Pure-O):

Just Right Obsessions and Compulsions:

Counting and Numbers:

Relationship Obsessions and Compulsions:

Religious or Moral Obsessions and Compulsions:

Obsessive Compulsive Related Disorders

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a mental condition characterized by a persistent and distressing preoccupation with perceived defects or flaws in one's physical appearance. [5]

People with BDD may spend hours a day obsessing over their appearance, engaging in mental rituals such as checking or grooming, seeking reassurance from others, or avoiding social situations altogether. [5]

Hair-Pulling Disorder [Trichotillomania]

Trichotillomania, also known as a hair-pulling disorder, is a mental condition characterized by recurrent and uncontrollable urges to pull out one's hair, resulting in hair loss and significant distress or impairment in daily functioning. [6]

People with this disorder may pull hair from any part of their body, including the scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes, or pubic area, as a way of coping with stress, nervousness, or boredom. OCD people with this condition may feel ashamed or embarrassed about their hair loss, leading to social isolation and decreased self-esteem. [6]

Skin-Picking Disorder [Excoriation]

According to the American Psychiatric Association, skin-picking disorder, also known as excoriation disorder or "dermatillomania," is a medical condition characterized by recurrent and persistent picking at one's skin, resulting in skin damage and impairment in daily functioning. [7]

The OCD symptoms involve picking at any part of their body, including the face, arms, legs, or back, as a way of coping with stress, or boredom. Skin picking can be a compulsive behavior, and people with excoriation disorder may feel ashamed or embarrassed about their skin damage, leading to social isolation and decreased self-esteem. [7]

Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders

Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder, also known as PANDAS, is a relatively rare condition that affects children. It is believed to be caused by an abnormal immune system response to a streptococcal infection, which can trigger a sudden onset of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) symptoms, tics, and other neuropsychiatric symptoms. [8]

Do You Need a See a Therapist for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

Yes, it's highly recommended to seek OCD treatment from a therapist. A trained online therapist can help you understand your symptoms, develop coping strategies, and implement evidence-based treatments such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and exposure and response prevention (ERP) to address the specific challenges of OCD.

Additionally, medication management may be recommended in conjunction with therapy to help manage the OCD symptoms if other treatments fail. You will be introduced to psychiatric drugs like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These are a class of psychiatric medications commonly used to treat depression, anxiety disorders, and other mental health conditions. [9]

It's essential to seek professional help from a licensed mental health provider specializing in mental disorders to treat OCD.


In conclusion, OCD is a complex mental illness that manifests in various forms, and it's essential to understand the different types of OCD to seek appropriate treatment.

If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of OCD, it's crucial to consult with a mental health professional who can help determine the best course of action for treating the specific type of OCD.

With the right support and treatment, individuals with OCD can successfully manage their symptoms and lead fulfilling lives.

You can take this quick general mental health test to check your mental state.


What is the most common OCD type?

The most common type of OCD is contamination and cleaning OCD, which is characterized by an excessive fear of germs or dirt and a compulsive need to clean and sanitize objects and surfaces. Other common OCD types include checking OCD, OCD obsessions, and symmetry and ordering OCD.

What is the hardest type of OCD to treat?

The most challenging type of OCD to treat varies from person to person and depends on several genetic factors, such as the severity of the symptoms, the individual's response to treatment, and the presence of any co-occurring mental conditions.

However, intrusive thoughts OCD (OCD that involves intrusive thoughts) can be particularly challenging to treat. This is because the unwanted thoughts are often irrational and fear-based. Individuals may feel ashamed or embarrassed to share them with others or seek help. [10]


  1. What Is Contamination OCD?
  2. Harm OCD: Symptoms and Treatment
  3. Hoarding disorder - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic
  4. Symmetry OCD – Symptoms and Treatment
  5. Body dysmorphic disorder - PMC - NCBI
  6. Trichotillomania (Hair Pulling) - Cleveland Clinic
  7. What Is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?
  8. PANDAS—Questions and Answers
  9. Pharmacological treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder
  10. What Are Intrusive Thoughts in OCD & How to Get Rid Of Them?
  11. Pubmed: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Are you one of the 2.2 million? Here are OCD facts you probably didn't know

OCD Facts
Helpful Products

- Affects about 2 - 3 million American adults each year
- Men and women are equally affected by OCD
- Onset of OCD Symptoms usually occurs during adolescence or early adulthood
- Exact cause of OCD is still unknown
- Medications used to treat OCD include Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SRIs) and Tricyclic antidepressants [Clomipramine (Anafranil)]
- OCD sufferers are more likely to attempt suicide
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder is considered a chronic disorder, meaning that it lasts for years and may require ongoing treatment

OCD is like when someone has the same worrying thoughts over and over and feels they have to do certain things repeatedly to feel better. It can make everyday stuff harder for them. Many people around the world have this.

Knowing more about OCD can help people deal with it better and be happier. Here are some things you should know about OCD.

6 facts about ocd infographic

OCD affects 2.2 million American adults

According to a group called the IOCDF, about 2 to 3 million adults in America have OCD every year. This means that 1 percent of the US population deals with this issue. OCD causes people to experience the same worrying thoughts. They might feel the need to do certain actions, like checking or cleaning, again and again, even if they want to stop. [2]

These worrying thoughts are "obsessions", which can be about specific things like a fear of germs. And the repeated actions they do are "compulsions".

Because of OCD, some people might find it hard to work, hang out with friends, or live a regular life. [1]

Men and women can develop OCD

Studies state that about one in 40 adults in the United States will experience OCD in their lifetime, and it affects both men and women. People with OCD often have repeating thoughts or images in their minds, known as obsessions. [3]

They also feel a strong urge to do certain actions, which are compulsions. Common examples of these compulsions are cleaning, checking things, counting, and organizing. But, the way OCD shows up can vary from person to person.[1]

It’s important to note that everyone experiences OCD differently. While some individuals may feel mild discomfort associated with their unwanted thoughts or compulsions, others may experience severe distress or impairment. [1]

The onset of OCD Symptoms usually occurs during adolescence or early adulthood

Being a teenager means going through a lot of changes. Because of these changes, teenagers are more likely to develop OCD.

It appears before the age of 25. Sometimes, kids can get OCD after catching a certain kind of throat infection. This condition has a long name: Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections. [4]

But you can think of it as a link between a throat bug and OCD. (PANDAS) In general, women tend to develop OCD earlier than men, with a peak age of onset between 4-10 years old.

There is no known cause of OCD

Despite extensive ongoing research, the exact cause of OCD is still unknown. OCD can be something that runs in families, kind of like inheriting your mom's smile. But, where you live or things you've gone through in life can also affect whether you get OCD.[5]

Some theories believe that a chemical imbalance in the brain might cause some cases of OCD, but no one has proven this yet. It's possible that there isn't a single cause but a combination of factors. Whatever the cause, remember that people with OCD are not to blame for their condition. [5]

There are effective treatments for OCD

OCD can be tricky to deal with, but there's a treatment called CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy). It helps people with OCD by letting them face what bothers them without doing their usual rituals to feel better. [6]

With CBT, people learn to question the thoughts that make them do the same things over and over. They also learn ways to relax and handle stress, which can help with feeling too worried or panicky.

Doctors can give special medicines to help people with OCD. There are two main kinds: SRIs and another one called Clomipramine, which some people also call Anafranil. They can help people feel better. SRIs are often prescribed as first-line treatment and reduce obsessive-compulsive disorder symptoms. [6]

SSRIs are a type of medicine that can help with OCD. They help calm down the strong urges to do things over and over. To treat OCD, you might need to take more of this medicine than for sadness. It can take up to 3 months to see if it's working, but some people feel better faster. [7]

Table about effective treatments for OCD

People with OCD are at an increased risk of suicide

It's an unfortunate truth that people with OCD feel compelled to take their own lives more than those without the disorder.

According to a big health group, people with OCD are more likely to think about hurting themselves than other people. This is because OCD can make them feel bad, guilty, and super sad, making life seem tough.[8]

People with OCD know that feeling super down or alone isn't because they're not strong or there's something wrong with them. It's the OCD that's making them feel this way. Studies have shown that the proper treatment for OCD can reduce suicidal ideation. [8]

Therefore, seeking professional help from a qualified online therapist or psychiatrist can be lifesaving for those who struggle with suicidal thoughts.

OCD is a chronic and relapsing disorder

OCD is a problem that can last for a long time, even years. People with OCD might need help from doctors or therapists for a while to feel better. [9]

The intensity of OCD symptoms can vary from daily and weekly, with some days being worse than others. OCD can be like a roller coaster. Sometimes, the problems it causes are not so bad (this is "remission"). But other times, the problems can get strong and tough to handle (this is "exacerbation").  [9]

People with problems like OCD need help for a long time. They need ways to handle their feelings and learn tricks to deal with the tough parts of having OCD. Therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes can all be used to help reduce the intensity of OCD symptoms.  [9]

It's also good to learn the first signs that OCD is getting worse. Knowing these signs and having a plan ready can stop the problem from getting bigger and help keep things in check.

If you're confused about your mental condition, you can take this quick General Mental Health test.


OCD is a serious mental health condition that affects millions of people around the world. It can be especially challenging to live with, compared to other mental health disorders.

For people with OCD, there are ways to feel better. This includes talking to someone (therapy), taking medicines, making some life changes, and joining groups where people help each other out. If you or someone you know is living with OCD, it is important to reach out for help and take action.


How rare is OCD?

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a common mental health condition that affects about 2.3% of the population. It is characterized by obsessive fear and repetitive behaviors or mental acts that can significantly interfere with daily life. Although it is not considered to be rare, it can be difficult to diagnose due to its complexity and the various forms it can take. It is important to seek professional help from a trained mental health professional if you think you may have OCD so that you can get the right treatment and support.

What are the 4 types of OCD?

OCD can be divided into four main categories:

  1. Checking
  2. Contamination/Mental Contamination
  3. Symmetry/Ordering
  4. Ruminations/Repeated Thoughts.

Each type of OCD has its own set of symptoms and behaviors that can affect a person’s daily life.


  1. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  2. Who Gets OCD? - IOCDF
  3. OCD statistics 2023 - Single Care
  4. PANS and PANDAS: Acute-Onset OCD in Children
  5. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  6. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Medication
  7. Pharmacological treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder
  8. Suicide Risk in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Exploration of Risk Factors: A Systematic Review
  9. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder