When most people think of OCD or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, they imagine a person who has compulsive behaviors like washing hands repeatedly, counting objects or steps, or checking things to make sure they are in order (like locks on a door). But, compulsions are just one part of OCD – the other part is what drives these compulsions known as obsessions, or fears. OCD fear can come in many forms, and identifying this fear can help a person who may be living with ODC to understand whether or not they may need to find help for OCD.
Some examples of OCD fear that can go unnoticed but are pretty common include:
One common example of an OCD fear is an obsession with getting sick, whether it be physically or mentally. People who have this OCD fear may worry that things they are experiencing are symptoms of an undiagnosed illness. So, they may go to the doctor often to get testing done. Even after these tests show that their health is ok, people with this OCD fear may not believe their test results are accurate or that their doctors are competent. Furthermore, another symptom of this fear is worrying that one may have already developed an illness or condition but have not gotten help soon enough.
Many people know about the OCD fear of physical contamination. For example, if a person touches something that has bacteria, a person with physical contamination OCD fear may worry that they will get sick. Likewise, a person with mental contamination OCD fear worries that what they come into contact with will determine their mental health. For example, walking over a handicapped parking space may cause a person to become handicapped. Or, that talking to someone who has been to prison may lead to emotional contamination that can result in you going to prison. Thus, resulting in behaviors in order to avoid these situations, places, or people and even conducting rituals that are believed to overturn these mental contaminations.
One of the most common OCD fears involves religion. People who have religious OCD fears may worry that they are upsetting their higher power, not going to get rewarded in the afterlife, have done things that are considered “wrong” according to their religion, or aren’t conducting religious rituals in the right way. People with this type of OCD fear may have strict rules, regulations, and processes that they may stick to in order to curb their worries about religion and morals. This can include praying over and over, going to church or religious ceremonies very often, obsessing over behaviors, and attempting to do “good” by participating in activities of altruism on a regular basis.
There are a number of OCD fears that may not be initially associated with OCD. But, knowing more about these fears and spreading awareness can help people who may have fears go unnoticed or not attribute them to a mental health disorder like OCD. So, if you find that you are experiencing debilitating fear that causes you to behave in specific ways in order to attempt to control these fears, you may be living with OCD. Fortunately, people living with OCD, regardless of the fear they are experiencing, can get help for the hold that OCD has on their lives through OCD treatment. Behavioral therapy settings can provide people living with OCD with the tools they need to identify underlying reasons for OCD fear. And, give them the tools necessary for healing and recovery.