5 Subtle Symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder You Should Be Mindful About

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5 Subtle Symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder You Should Be Mindful About
PHOTOGRAPH: Ben Warren/Unsplash |

People usually have their own routines, and because of this, the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are often overlooked. However, there are actually subtle signs you should watch out for which could help you recognize the possibility that you, or someone you know, may have OCD.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a mental disorder wherein a person feels the urge to do things over and over. People with OCD may have repeated anxiety-causing thoughts, urges or mental images referred to as obsessions. When they respond to their obsessive thoughts with repetitive behaviors, it becomes a compulsion.

We often identify OC people in movies when a character will not let food with different colors touch, or when they want to arrange their things in straight and symmetrical order obsessively. However, there are subtle symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder that do not necessarily shout at our faces. Some of them may be masked as habits that affect how you function in your daily life.

Checking Things Over and Over

A responsible grown-up would always check appliances are plugged off, lights are turned off and the door is locked. However, repeatedly doing these every day, especially when you feel panic while doing so, is a sign that these actions are not just normal worries. The repeated checking and being unable to stop these racing thoughts on your head is a common sign of OCD.

Wanting to Stay Clean All The Time

Do you always have to bring a hand sanitizer with you wherever you go? It is normal to want to protect yourself from germs but obsessive-compulsive people have the tendency to wash their hands until their skin becomes raw.

It is because these people have a fear of germs and contamination. So if you feel extra anxious with your friend’s incessant sneezing, there might be something more serious going on with you.

Doing Everything in A Specific Way

When preparing in the morning, you might find yourself getting late because you absolutely have to follow a certain step-by-step process in order to get things “right.” This obsession is time-consuming and you might find yourself being late because of it.

That is also why OC people have the urge to keep their things organized and tidy. In some cases, this could be associated with the person’s superstitious belief on certain numbers, arrangements, and colors.

Meanwhile, a subtle indication is also seen when you respond anxiously when your routine gets interrupted. This is especially applicable to people who cannot deal when they are in a new and unfamiliar situation.

Repeating Gestures or Having Nervous Ticks

Even though OCD is a mental disorder, it could rear its ugly head physically as well. If you notice yourself having repetitive eye blinking, excessive throat clearing, facial grimaces and shoulder shrugging, it could mean you have developed tic disorder as well. But it could also be something as innocent as little gestures like tapping your hand, cracking your knuckles, or pushing your hair behind your ear whenever you are nervous.

Having Unwanted Sexual Thoughts

If you have experienced having unwelcome sexual thoughts that are mostly taboo, then you might be one of those with sexual orientation obsessions in OCD, also called as SO-OCD. Over 10 percent of patients are reportedly seeking treatments with this type of OCD as per Psychology Today.

The key takeaway is that even though it is normal to have rituals or uncontrollable thoughts from time to time, you should take action once you notice that these can already affect and take over your life. Being mindful of the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder could increase your awareness about this chronic mental problem not only for yourself but also for those people around you.


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