Obsessively Informed: OCD Signs and Symptoms

For those of you who don't know what OCD is, it's a neurological Anxiety Disorder that may have genetic origins and is caused by an imbalance of Serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter (a chemical that acts as as messenger in the Brain) between the Orbital Cortex (the front of the Brain) and the Basal Ganglia (deeper structures of the Brain). When the Serotonin levels are imbalanced, the messages that go from one part of the Brain to the other are messed up, resulting in repetitive "worry thoughts" over and over - sort of like a CD skipping!

These repetitive "worry thoughts" are known as OBSESSIONS and they drive people experiencing them to act out time-consuming rituals known as COMPULSIONS.

Brain scans taken of people with OCD have actually shown that the Orbital Cortex in OCD patients is overactive.

To sum up, OCD is like having your worst fears in life, the things that you hate the most and that make you feel absolutely terrified, constantly put in front of you and placed at the front of your mind. This means that there seems to be no escape from them and, whether you like it or not, you are continually made aware of and feel threatened and in danger from them.

Below is a checklist of some common OCD symptoms:

  • Find out about OCD. Description of OCD plus OCD signs and symptoms.Cleaning and washing compulsions: Excessive, ritualized hand washing, showering, bathing or teeth brushing. The unshakable feeling that household items, such as dishes, are contaminated or cannot be washed enough to be "really clean."
  • Obsessive need for order or symmetry: An overwhelming need to align objects "just so." Abnormal concerns about the neatness of one's personal appearance or environment.
  • Obsessions about hoarding or saving: Stashing away useless trash, such as old newspapers or items rescued from trash cans. The inability to discard anything because it "may be needed sometime." A fear of losing something or discarding something by mistake.
  • Repetitive rituals: Repeating routine activities for no logical reason. Repeating questions over and over. Rereading or rewriting words or phrases.
  • Nonsensical doubts: Unfounded fears that one has failed to do some routine task, such as paying the mortgage or signing a check.
  • Obsessions with aggressive content: The fear of having caused some terrible tragedy, such as a fatal fire. Repeating intruding images of violence.
  • Superstitious fears: The belief that certain numbers or colors are "lucky" or "unlucky."
  • Compulsions about having things "just right." The need for symmetry and total order in one's environment. The need to keep doing things until things are "just right."
  • Checking compulsions: Repeatedly checking to see if a door is locked or an appliance is turned off. Checking and rechecking for mistakes, such as when balancing a checkbook. Checking associated with bodily obsessions, such as repeatedly checking oneself for signs of a catastrophic disease.
  • Other compulsions: Blinking or staring rituals. Asking over and over for reassurance. Behaviors based on superstitious beliefs, such as fixed bedtime rituals to "ward off" evil or the need to avoid stepping on cracks in the pavement. A feeling of dread if some simple act is not performed. The need to touch, tap or rub certain objects repeatedly. Counting compulsions, such as counting panes in windows or signs along the road. Mental rituals, such as reciting silent prayers in an effort to make a bad thought go away.
  • Excessive list making.

next: Obsessive Facts and Fiction
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APA Reference
Staff, H. (2009, January 3). Obsessively Informed: OCD Signs and Symptoms, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 18 from

Last Updated: January 14, 2014

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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