The 4 Basic Types of OCD

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition characterized by illogical thoughts and fears that lead to compulsive behaviors.

The symptoms of OCD can begin mildly and then worsen throughout time, if left untreated. The treatment for different types of OCD includes group therapy, ERP exposure therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, talk therapy, and potentially the use of medication.

When someone suffers from OCD, they’re consumed with intrusive thoughts that can interfere with their life and simple daily functions become exhausting and disruptive.

If you, your loved one, or a friend or family member is the one struggling with OCD, it’s crucial to understand the aspects of the condition - what can possibly improve the condition and what can make it worse. It will also help you understand which treatment or therapy might be best.

What causes OCD?

There is no one cause. It is often the byproduct of numerous factors including one’s genetics and environment. Genetics may predispose someone to develop OCD, while being in a stressful environment for a prolonged period of time can trigger symptoms.

It is thought that people with OCD have an overactive or malfunctioning amygdala that stimulates a fight or flight response and results in the distressing signal that triggers a person’s obsessions.

4 Types of OCD

Though there is a wide variation in how OCD affects individuals, there are four basic types that seem to be the most common.

Hoarding OCD

Ever seen the TV show, "Hoarders"?

Each episode takes you inside the lives of two different people who are unable to part with useless, tiny possessions, leading to a mountain of junk that takes over their home.

When someone struggles with hoarding OCD, they collect items that don’t have much value. Empty water bottles, old magazines, and worthless trinkets begin to clutter their home and eventually become a huge problem because the individual cannot detach with them.

There is a deep-rooted fear of potentially not having something they might need one day. Beneath hoarding OCD is usually a form of co-existing anxiety or depression.

Cleaning OCD

Cleaning or contamination OCD occurs when an individual focuses on excessively washing their hands, bodies, or surfaces around them in fear that there are germs everywhere, contaminating them.

Cleansing and washing becomes a relief from the distress of thinking they are dirty or that they are possibly contaminating other people or surfaces.

Harm OCD

Many individuals who experience harm OCD often participate in rituals to prevent them from being swallowed up by their negative thoughts of hurting themselves or others.

For example, if you suffer from harm OCD, you might have an all-consuming fear that you are going to accidentally get run over by a car one day, or even hit someone with your car. This fear may cause you to drive back and forth to a place where you think it might happen, just to reassure yourself nothing really happened there.

Order OCD

Order OCD can also be called symmetry or counting compulsions OCD, and it creates intense urges to rearrange items and objects repeatedly. It can also manifest in negative, fearful thoughts that if something isn’t counted right, spoken right, or arranged right, something awful will happen.

There is a never ending constant need to count, order, or repeat a behavior or set of behaviors. If this isn’t done, the individual may feel a sense of impending doom, danger, or bad luck.

How to Treat Different OCD Types

Treatment for OCD can be a little complicated since there is no one-size-fits-all method to the different symptoms. Because of this, a combination of different types of therapy and medication are usually recommended.


The gold standard treatment is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy for OCD known as Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). In doing ERP therapy, a person learns to gradually expose themselves to their obsessions and tolerate increasing levels of anxiety, while not engaging in their compulsions.

Learning to abstain from performing compulsions decreases the frequency and intensity of the emotional distress caused by obsessions, thereby helping one to break free from their OCD cycle.

Additionally, practicing mindfulness-based techniques and adopting healthy lifestyle habits can ease the severity of the symptoms.


In the beginning of treatment, medication might be suggested as a supplement when learning additional coping techniques in individual or online group therapy.

A few of the prescription medications that have proven effective in treating OCD include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), anti-psychotics, and antidepressants.

How Grouport Can Help

Grouport online group therapy sessions treat people who suffer from the following OCD obsessions:

  • Blasphemous thoughts
  • Disturbing sexual thoughts
  • Sexual Identity
  • Pedophilia
  • Health
  • Religion
  • Violence
  • Self-Harm
  • Causing harm to others
  • Responsibility
  • Relationships
  • Contamination
  • Being hyper aware of bodily functions (Somatic OCD)
  • Existential OCD

When you attend a Grouport therapy session, you’re matched with a small group of people going through the exact same thing as you.

Our OCD group connects each week in an online session - to laugh, share, listen, and grow together. Members learn that they can model the successful behaviors of other individuals in the group who have gone through similar experiences with their OCD. The group reinforces ERP, so members can habituate to their obsessions over time and refrain from engaging in obsessions.

By this time next week, you could be sitting amongst a group of people just like you.

Click here to sign up for our OCD group!

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