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What Does OCD Feel Like?

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OCD, or obsessive-compulsive disorder is a mental health condition that affects millions and millions of people on a daily basis. Many people wonder, what does OCD feel like? Well, for some people, having OCD can be a mere minor inconvenience throughout their day, like a lingering cough or the sniffles. For some though, it can be so debilitating that it can prevent them from being able to do even the simplest of tasks. That’s because the key component of OCD is the unwanted and intrusive thoughts, urges, or obsessions that come with the diagnosis. These constant feelings can cause distress in people’s lives and can make it tougher for them to go about their regular daily activities. 

Because there are different levels and types of OCD, it can often go undetected. It can also be difficult for someone who doesn’t suffer from OCD to fully understand what it’s like to live with the condition. Many people look at someone with OCD and think that their obsessions or compulsions are simply little quirks that they have. With that being said, in this blog, we will take a deeper look at what OCD is and answer the question, “what does OCD feel like?”

What Is OCD?

Before we can talk about what it feels like to have OCD, we have to truly understand what exactly it is. As we touched on in the introduction of this article, OCD is considered to be a mental health condition. It is characterized by repetitive and wanted thoughts or actions that are called obsessions or compulsive behaviors. These obsessions and behaviors can range in severity, with some people having such extreme cases of OCD that it leaves them debilitated and unable to complete even the most basic of tasks.

Many people with OCD are fully aware that their obsessions or compulsions are irrational and oftentimes would love nothing more than to not have them, however, they simply can’t. What makes OCD unique is that everyone, for the most part, has things that they might obsess about. However, for those who don’t suffer from OCD, these obsessions don’t really interfere with their daily lives. People who suffer from OCD though don’t have the same luxury. 

People with OCD can’t just forget about their obsessions or compulsions and move on with their lives. For them, they have to give in to their obsessions or compulsions in order to calm their brain down. 

What Are the Different Types of OCD?

As we talked about above, the two main components of OCD are obsessions and compulsions. These are the two most common forms of OCD.


People with obsessions as it pertains to OCD tend to have repeated, persistent, and unwanted thoughts, urges, or actions that can cause severe anxiety. These thoughts, urges, or actions can oftentimes be intrusive and can even prevent the person from going about their daily routine in a “normal” manner. In some cases, the obsession can be so strong that a person’s brain will not allow him or her to continue or start the day without first addressing said obsession. 

Some common “obsessions” that people with OCD might experience include:

  • Fixating on finding flaws in things
  • Excessively worrying about order, neatness, remembering things, or losing things
  • Experiencing unwanted sexual thoughts and urges
  • Constant fear of losing control or saying something inappropriate
  • Intrusive thoughts about suicide or hurting someone else
  • Irrational fear of contamination
  • Existential obsessions involving life, death, and the universe

Some specific signs and symptoms of obsession include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Avoiding certain situations for fear of triggering an obsession
  • Experiencing vivid dreams of images involving death or great bodily harm is caused to you or someone else
  • Feeling intense levels of stress or anxiety when something is out of place
  • Fear of contamination when something touches you or you touch something
  • Fear of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time to the point where you hesitate to speak, even when spoken to
  • Unpleasant or unwanted sexual images 
  • Constantly doubted that you did something basic like locking the door or turning off the stove


The other component of OCD is compulsions. Compulsions are often actions that a person does in order to eliminate the anxiety and stress that is brought on from the obsessions. Compulsions are largely done to keep the mind at ease and prevent something bad from happening. While these compulsions might bring some relief, it is only temporary and is often done out of necessity and not because the person actually wants to be doing them. 

Some common “compulsions” include:

  • Needing constant reassurance
  • Following a strict routine
  • Excessive washing, cleaning, and grooming to prevent contamination
  • Repetitive checking
  • Constantly arranging and rearranging items
  • Mentally reviewing events or tasks to make sure nothing bad happened

Some specific signs and of compulsion include, but are not limited to:

Washing your hands so much that your skin becomes damaged

  • Arranging everything in your pantry to face the same way
  • Constantly repeating a word or phrase in your head
  • Checking a lock constantly to make sure it’s locked
  • Checking the stove more than once to make sure it’s off
  • Counting in certain patterns

What Does It Feel Like To Have OCD

So, what does OCD feel like? Well, OCD manifests differently in every person. One person might be afraid to leave the house because he or she is so worried about dirt and germs while another person might not be able to truly relax because he or she is constantly worried about forgetting to lock the door or turn the stove off. That being said, most people who suffer from OCD tend to share similar experiences.

Most people with OCD tend to experience uncontrollable urges to engage in what is considered to be irrational behaviors. Most of the time even the people with OCD will acknowledge that their behaviors are irrational, but they do it in order to calm their brains down and satisfy the OCD “urges” much in the same way a smoker would when lighting up a cigarette to quench the nicotine urge. 

In many cases, the person with OCD will need to complete the task or fully engage in the compulsive behavior before he or she can move on to something else. Depending on the severity of the OCD and the task at hand this can cause a major disruption to a person’s day.

To an outsider, living with OCD can sound quite exhausting, and it is. It’s also important to remember that in most cases, the person who is suffering from OCD doesn’t want to be behaving that way or acting in the manner that he or she is. People with OCD act in the way that they do to calm down their brains and avoid the constant feelings of stress and anxiety that often come with the mental illness.

Is OCD Treatable?

There are various treatment options available for OCD. Some of these treatment options are described below.


As is the case with many other ailments, both physical and mental, there are medications on the market that are designed to treat and manage OCD symptoms. These medications can help control obsessions and compulsions and help relieve some of the stress and anxiety associated with OCD. 

Some of the most common OCD medications on the market include:

  • Zoloft
  • Paxil
  • Prozac
  • Pexeva
  • Anafranil
  • Fluvoxamine


Another popular treatment option for OCD is psychotherapy. Psychotherapy is done to essentially reprogram the brain to get rid of some of the obsessions and compulsions that the person might be suffering from. 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most popular form of psychotherapy when it comes to treating OCD. During CBT, the person with OCD will participate in exposure and response prevention. In doing so, individuals with OCD will be exposed to one of their obsessions or compulsions. They will then learn more healthy ways to deal with the said obsessions or compulsions.

What Does OCD Feel Like?

Living with OCD can be overwhelming. It can also be debilitating at times. The good news is that there are ways to get help when it comes to living with and dealing with OCD. 

At Montare Behavioral Health, we understand the suffering that goes along with having OCD. That’s why we offer a variety of treatment methods and mental health programs designed to treat OCD. 

We want you to enjoy your life and not have to worry about your OCD preventing you from living your life to the fullest. In addition to OCD, we treat many other mental health conditions, including:

If you or someone you know is suffering from OCD or another mental health condition and could benefit from treatment, contact us today.