Understanding the Types of Obsessive-Compulsive Related Disorders

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder or OCD is a mental illness like no other. It involves repetitive, unwanted thoughts or sensations, known as obsessions, and the urge to repeatedly or compulsively do something.

There is not a single definitive definition of OCD as it covers a broad spectrum of disorders. The presence of obsessions and compulsions is the only sure way to identify OCD.

Medical professionals classify different types of OCD and its related disorders according to the patient’s symptoms.

The following are the different types of Obsessive-Compulsive related disorders:


Excoriation is an OCD-related disorder also known as skin picking disorder. It involves persistently picking at the skin until it results in lesions, infections, and other forms of substantial skin distress.

Excoriation was recognized as an OCD-related disorder in the DSM-5. It is one of the rarest OCD-related disorders found in only one to two percent of the population.


Trichotillomania is also referred to as hair-pulling disorder. It is an OCD-related disorder in which patients have the relentless urge to pull their hair.

Patients get the compulsion to pull their hair from all over their body, including eyebrows, eyelashes, legs, and chest. All those urges to pull out hair are so strong that patients will pull out hair entirely from a body part. It can result in extensive damage to the skin. Trichotillomania is quite common among OCD patients, especially when the condition is severe. It is treated by habit reversal training and cognitive behavioral therapy.

Body Dysmorphic Behavior

Many OCD-related disorders only have to do with the patient and nothing to do with the external world. Body dysmorphic disorder is different from other OCD-related disorders in that external factors come into play.

The disorder involves an obsession with one or more defects or flaws in appearance or looks. In most cases, these mistakes or flaws are not visible to anyone else other than the patient. If they are, they might be so slight as to escape casual observation.

The disorder’s symptoms will involve repeated checking of appearance, constant grooming, and other ‘image rectifying’ behavior. The cognitive behavior of constantly comparing your appearance to others is also symptomatic of body dysmorphic behavior.

Hoarding Disorder

Another OCD-related disorder that was recognized in the DSM-5 is hoarding. It was previously thought to be a personality trait or a quirk but is now medically identified as a disorder.

Hoarding involves the constant collection of items that are thought to be valueless by other people. These items may include newspapers, strings, notes, or cans. Hoarding may involve the collection of many items or only a single one.

The patient will often hoard these items until their living space is full of them. It is often the case that their living space becomes so cluttered that it becomes inhabitable.

Hoarding is usually characterized by the unusual emotional attachment to items for which the patients seem to have no practical use. There will also be obsessive fear of losing these items, resulting in violence if these items are taken away from them.

Olfactory Reference Syndrome

People with a hoarding disorder tend to have more anxiety and depression levels than other OCD patients. They will also often ignore many vital responsibilities, such as maintaining employment.

Olfactory reference syndrome is an OCD-related disorder in which the patients are obsessed with how they smell. It may also pertain to a smell that they constantly say exists, but no one else can.

The obsession with body odor or personal smell is the most potent version of the disorder. The patient will hence repeatedly take showers or apply deodorant and perfume to get rid of the smell. The only way to treat olfactory reference syndrome is through psychotherapy.

Physical Illness (Hypochondriasis)

Hypochondriasis is an OCD-related disorder associated with physical illnesses. More specifically, the patients constantly report feeling physically ill. It may be various diseases or a single one.

However, when the patient is taken to a doctor and tested, there is no proof of physical illness. The disorder is challenging to judge as there is no other way to prove that there is no physical illness other than conclusive medical tests.

Many psychologists state that the belief that they are sick may sometimes lead to illness in patients. Therefore, treating the patient through psychotherapy usually alleviates the disorder

There above are several OCD-related disorders. Some of them are easy to manage and address, while others will take years of psychotherapy. Hopefully, you gained a better understanding of OCD-related disorders, their symptoms, and treatments.