How Do I Recognize That I Have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

By Patrick McGrath, PhD
2 min read
How to recognize ocd

The following is a video transcript. The text has been lightly edited for clarity.

So a few things to look out for: Are you experiencing intrusive thoughts, images or urges that you find to be really disturbing or inappropriate? Maybe they lead you to feel guilty or shameful or anxious or disgusted? And when you have these, if you do something to try to neutralize them, or to decrease the anxiety or disgust or shame that you feel, that’s a sense that you might be doing compulsions. 

So the obsessions are these intrusive thoughts, images or urges that people experience, and the compulsions are either behaviors that you can see physically or mental acts that you might be performing, like maybe counting or praying. You do those to neutralize the effect of the obsession. You find that obsession to be really just a bad thing, something that you don’t want. 

One phrase we sometimes even use, as we call it, ego dystonic, meaning that we’re not finding that to be a part of us or who we are as a person, or something of that nature; it’s outside of who we see ourselves as. So we want to neutralize that to make it go away, because if we don’t, we fear that something bad might happen, or we might be at fault for something that could occur. 

Once we neutralize it, we typically feel really good. That compulsion kind of wipes away that obsession, and we start to feel great after we do it. Therefore, that maintains us, continuing to do those compulsions because we know it’s the way to feel better. And that’s why people get stuck in the course of this, why they keep having these intrusive thoughts, and they keep doing whatever they can to try to make them go away. And there’s that circle that keeps happening over and over again, sometimes are referred to it as just the really unfortunate hamster wheel that we find ourselves on, and we just keep going around and around and around. And we don’t know how to get off. 

There are great treatments that are available, and someone at NOCD could help you with that. So if you’re interested in seeing how NOCD might be available to help you with your OCD, please reach out to us at We look forward to working with you.

Patrick McGrath, PhD
WRITTEN BYPatrick McGrath, PhD