Checking OCD – Symptoms and Treatment
What is Checking OCD?
Checking OCD occurs when a person experiences intrusive thoughts, fears or concerns (obsessions) that cause doubt and uncertainty that items may not where they are supposed to be, lights or appliances were left on, doors were not closed, emails or text messages were written with errors, etc. As a result of these obsessive fears, people suffering from Checking OCD feel the need to perform compulsive behaviors and “check” to make sure the item(s) they are concerned with have been left in the right place, appliances or lights are turned off, that emails were written correctly, or that they said the right thing, etc.
Common Obsessions of Checking OCD
A person suffering from Checking OCD can have obsessions that differ significantly from those of another person who is suffering from the same sub-type of OCD. A qualified mental health professional that specializes in OCD can help to identify a person’s obsessions and compulsions and make an appropriate OCD diagnosis.
Common obsessions and intrusive thoughts that are associated with Checking OCD include:
- Fear of accidentally leaving the stove or oven on
- Checking one’s memory to verify a whether a thought is just a thought and not a memory
- Fear of having not locked their doors
- Fear of losing one’s personal items
- Fear of accidentally leaving water taps on
- Fear of having written a text message or email incorrectly or inappropriately
Common Compulsions of Checking OCD
Checking OCD causes a person to doubt their memory and in order to reassure themselves that they are safe, they develop compulsive behaviors.
Common compulsive behaviors that are associated with Checking OCD include:
- Repeatedly checking one’s stove or appliances to ensure they weren’t left on
- Seeking reassurance from others that a memory is real and not a thought
- Repeatedly checking the locks in one’s home, car, and/or room
- Repeatedly checking to ensure one’s personal items are still with them
- Repeatedly checking water taps to make sure they are off
These checking behaviors are often done multiple times within a short period of time and can have a serious impact on one’s life. Compulsive checking can consume hours of a person’s day, causing them to possibly be late to work, miss appointments, or affect their sleep.
Treatment for Checking OCD
People suffering from Checking OCD are encouraged to seek treatment from a mental health treatment provider that specializes in the treatment of OCD. OCD specialists are equipped and prepared to treat a wide array of OCD subtypes, including Checking OCD. Like all types of OCD, Checking OCD can be treated with Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), specifically with treatment approaches called Exposure with Response Prevention (ERP), and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy.
Mindful-Based CBT teaches patients that everyone experiences intrusive thoughts. Individuals will also learn that intrusive thoughts have no power over them and that by responding to their thoughts through compulsive behaviors, their thoughts are given more strength and credibility and their fears and obsessions are strengthened and reinforced. Mindfulness-Based CBT is a very effective OCD treatment, especially when combined with ERP.
ERP exposes patients to situations related to their intrusive thoughts that cause them anxiety. The goal of this treatment is for the patient to prevent himself or herself from completing their compulsive behaviors when triggered by intrusive thoughts. The situations that are confronted will intensify over time, until the patient can face and overcome their most feared scenario. Once they are able to stop themselves from responding to their intrusive thoughts with compulsive behaviors, they can experience tremendous relief from the symptoms of OCD.
If patients are suffering from severe levels of anxiety due to their OCD, they may benefit from participating in treatment at an Intensive Outpatient (IOP) OCD treatment program, as is offered by The Gateway Institute. The Gateway Institute offers Intensive Outpatient treatment options as well as regular outpatient psychotherapy sessions, and a free, 30 minute face-to-face consultation with one of our experienced and caring clinicians at all three of our beautiful locations in Orange County, Scottsdale, Arizona, and the San Francisco Bay Area. OCD symptoms typically worsen over time and can take over a person’s life, so it is very important to seek OCD treatment as soon as possible with a skilled and dedicated OCD specialist who can provide expertise and support during this journey.
Other Common OCD Sub-Types
It is not uncommon for an individual suffering from one OCD sub-type to also suffer from other sub-types. Treating co-occurring sub-types simultaneously is important in finding balance and healing from OCD.
Pure O (Pure Obsessional OCD)
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