Is It OCD or Something Else?

Are you uncertain whether your symptoms are due to OCD or something else? Here’s how to tell OCD apart from other conditions.

While certain symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are obvious, others can be mistaken for those of anxiety disorders, depression, schizophrenia, and autism.

It’s normal to have a lot of questions regarding OCD, but receiving the right diagnosis is the first step toward discovering the best treatment options.

What exactly is OCD?

OCD is a mental health condition that is frequently misunderstood and mislabeled.

The term “OCD” has come to stand for being detail-oriented or having a penchant for keeping things neat. However, having these characteristics does not imply having OCD.

The distinction is the extent to which your obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors interfere with your daily life and self-image.

Obsessions, compulsions, or both are characteristics of OCD:

  • Obsessions are recurring, overwhelming thoughts that cause anxiety and are difficult to overcome. For example, you may be constantly concerned about whether your doors are securely locked.
  • Compulsions are strong desires to perform ritualistic actions that can alleviate anxiety and obsessive thoughts. For example, you might get up frequently to make sure you haven’t left the oven on.

If you can’t physically check on the things that worry you, you might start worrying — or ruminating — about them, falling down a rabbit hole of “what ifs.”

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Quiz & Self-Assessment

Do I have OCD? Take this quiz to evaluate if you may require the assistance of a mental health professional for the diagnosis and treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

What other mental health disorders are similar to OCD?

There are various additional mental health disorders with symptoms that match OCD. Below is a list of some of the most comparable disorders.

Anxiety disorders

Several similarities exist between OCD and anxiety disorders. OCD was previously classed as an anxiety disorder in the DSM-5.

Anxiety disorders are common, with an estimated 31.1% of American adults suffering from one at some point in their lives. Anxiety disorders include the following:

  • Anxiety disorder in general
  • specific phobias
  • Anxiety problems in social situations

Anxiety is a significant component of OCD. Anxiety is caused by obsessive thinking, and it is typical to engage in compulsions to reduce worry.

Compulsions that take up a significant amount of time, such as more than one hour per day, create distress, and interfere with your work or social life are a major component of OCD that is not present in anxiety disorders.


OCD is a very distressing mental health disease. It can have serious consequences for your personal, social, and professional lives, as well as your general quality of life.

According to the report, because obsessions and compulsions are so difficult to deal with, many people with OCD also fit the diagnostic criteria for depression.

Depression symptoms may include:

  • feeling down for 2 weeks
  • losing interest in routine activities
  • experiencing exhaustion or tiredness
  • Having difficulty eating or sleeping; 
  • Feelings of Hopelessness or Worthlessness

If you feel you have both depression and OCD, a mental health expert can assist you in developing a treatment plan that addresses both illnesses.

Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD)

Despite having similar-sounding names, OCPD is not the same as OCD.

Those with OCPD, like those with OCD, have obsessions with cleanliness and organization, spending hours cleaning or reorganizing until they believe it’s perfect.

The most significant distinction is that people with OCD often recognize that their obsessive thoughts and compulsions are unrealistic and excessive, yet they are nevertheless unable to settle their anxious thoughts or break free from the cycle of worrying and ruminating.

Individuals with OCPD are less likely to understand that their obsessions and compulsions are irrational, instead viewing them as sensible.


Schizophrenia is a complicated chronic mental health illness that is similar to OCD.

A schizophrenia diagnosis requires the presence of multiple symptoms, but the three basic symptoms are:

  • Hallucinations
  • delusions, 
  •  irregular and chaotic speech patterns

In schizophrenia, delusions occur when a person observes and believes a false reality. They have irrational beliefs about the world around them.

Someone with OCD, on the other hand, may have unrealistic thoughts, but they are aware that their thoughts aren’t anchored in reality. While they may believe something ridiculously horrible could happen, they recognize it is irrational and impossible.

Individuals suffering from schizophrenia, on the other hand, believe the illusion is real, no matter how absurd it appears to others.

Conditions That May Involve OCD Symptoms

The following conditions have characteristics in common with OCD:

  • Tourette syndrome
  • autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
  • frontal lobe lesions

There are also several obsessive-compulsive-related disorders (OCRD), such as:

  • Dysmorphic disorder of the body
  • hypochondriasis or illness anxiety disorder
  • eating disorders
  • trichotillomania
  • excoriation disorder, also known as skin-picking or dermatillomania

OCD Treatment

It is possible to treat OCD, although it may take some time to completely address the symptoms and causes.

This type of therapy focuses on talking about your anxiety and what you fear will happen if you don’t act on your compulsions.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) attempts to change your perspective on negative thoughts and reframe them positively.

In this case, CBT focuses on safely breaking down the link between obsession and compulsion. You will be slower to perform your compulsive ritual if you investigate what obsessions cause your anxiety and why they lead to compulsions.

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