Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a mental disorder that affects quality of life and carrying out daily tasks, and it can affect people of any age. The symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder include obsessive thoughts and obsessions that control the person to do compulsive actions and behaviors, and although most people are sure that these thoughts are not logical, they cannot stop them or control their behavior, so the sufferer falls into a cycle of obsessions and compulsive actions.

In this article, learn about the symptoms of mental and behavioral OCD, as well as the symptoms of OCD in children.

When do obsessive-compulsive disorder symptoms begin?

Symptoms usually begin in late childhood and early adolescence, or in the late teens and early twenties. [1]

OCD symptoms that appear in childhood and early adolescence are more severe and occur gradually compared to symptoms that appear in your twenties, and may occur suddenly, perhaps as a result of trauma or a sudden event. [1]

Obsessive-compulsive disorder symptoms

The effect of obsessive-compulsive disorder on people can vary, but it usually causes a specific pattern of thoughts and behaviors.

OCD symptoms are divided into: [2]

  • Obsessions: are unwanted thoughts or motives that dominate a person’s thinking, making him unable to focus on other matters. These thoughts affect the person’s feelings, causing them to feel uncomfortable, anxious, and very distressed.
  • Compulsive acts: These repetitive behaviors and actions occur as a way to get rid of disturbing thoughts and anxiety resulting from them, and although compulsive actions may give a person some relief or get rid of them temporarily, but the obsessions soon return again.

It is worth noting that a person may suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder alone or only from the compulsions, but usually people with obsessive-compulsive disorder suffer from both. [2]

The following are the main symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder:

Obsessive symptoms

Obsessions vary from person to person depending on the type of OCD the individual has. Common OCD symptoms include: [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]

  • Fear of contamination: Symptoms of OCD include constant worry and an exaggerated fear of dirt and germs, or of getting a disease or infection, for example, the person feels afraid of touching doorknobs that have been touched by others or shaking hands with people.
  • Fear of harming oneself or others: where the person feels anxious and terrified of losing control of himself and harming himself or others, for example, symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder may include a person feeling afraid of attacking his children, or worrying about harming those around him by a fire in the house by forgetting The stove is on.
  • The urgent desire to organize and coordinate: The individual feels the strong need to coordinate things in a certain way and angle or in a similar way, and he feels anxious and upset if they are not organized according to his desire, and he may even think that something bad will happen if things are not organized properly.
  • Fear of losing things and the desire to keep them: The person feels fearful of losing an object he may need later, and the difficulty of giving up things even if they are unimportant, as well as intense anxiety about accidentally getting rid of something important or essential, such as important papers .
  • Unwanted sexual thoughts: The symptoms of sexual obsessive-compulsive disorder appear in the form of obsessions and unwanted sexual thoughts. The person may have thoughts about harassment, rape, and sexual violence; This leads to feelings of anxiety, intense fear, guilt and shame from these thoughts.
  • Thoughts centered around religious beliefs: Some people with OCD may have thoughts related to religion. The symptoms of religious OCD appear in the form of fear of offending God, infidelity, or not performing acts of worship in a correct manner, as well as intense fear of death and punishment.

compulsive behaviors

Behavioral OCD symptoms are often associated with obsessive thoughts. Examples of common compulsions include: [6] [7] [8] [9]

  • Washing hands frequently, or showering several times, and spending a lot of time cleaning tools or the house.
  • Frequently checking and checking things, such as checking again and again that doors, windows, stove, and taps are closed.
  • Repeated examination of the patient’s body for signs of disease.
  • Count in a certain pattern or repeat certain phrases to relieve anxiety.
  • Arranging objects in a similar way or in a certain way, such as arranging clothes according to color gradation, and this may be accompanied by counting or repeating phrases during the process of organizing.
  • Repeated inspection of parents and children and to ensure their safety.
  • Keeping a large amount of old and worthless items, such as newspapers, bills, and empty food containers, and possibly buying large quantities of the same product; Which leads to the accumulation of things and chaos.
  • hum with certain words or supplication and prayer; To relieve anxiety associated with sexual obsessions.
  • Repeating the prayer several times and doubting its validity, repeating the supplication constantly, and repeatedly asking the clergy about his thoughts, worried about the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder in the faith.

Symptoms of severe obsessive-compulsive disorder

Severe obsessive-compulsive disorder may appear in the form of repetition of compulsive actions to the point of affecting physical health. For example, a person may suffer from severe physical OCD symptoms in the form of washing his hands to the extent that it leads to cracking, and this does not prevent him from continuing with the compulsive behaviors. [10]

A person can spend many hours imprisoned by obsessive thoughts, trying to get rid of them by repeating the compulsions for so many hours that the person’s ability to carry out daily tasks, care for his family or children, or go to work or school. It may amount to social isolation and avoidance of leaving the house, and the consequent financial burdens and a decrease in the quality of life. [11]

Obsessive-compulsive disorder symptoms in children

Symptoms in children are similar to obsessive-compulsive symptoms in adults, but the difference is that the child may not realize that the obsessive and repetitive compulsions are excessive, but may think that all people have these thoughts as well, and children are more at risk of obsessive thoughts related to fear Bad things happen to their parents. [3] [12]

The response to obsessive compulsions may appear less clear in children than in adults, and a child’s obsessive thoughts may be similar to thought patterns in his normal developmental stages. [5]

It’s worth noting that OCD symptoms in children may overlap with symptoms of other medical conditions, such as autism, and Tourette’s syndrome. [8]