Symmetry OCD – Symptoms and Treatment
What is Symmetry OCD?
People who suffer from Symmetry OCD become fixated on the position and arrangement of certain objects and will feel uncomfortable and distressed when encountering items that are not aligned correctly or that or appear somehow incomplete. People with this form of OCD will struggle when words they write appear in an undesirable shape or are not perfectly positioned along the line. Individual’s suffering from Symmetry OCD experience strong urges to rearrange items and can spend an inordinate amount of time attempting to position objects in a perfect and acceptable manner, or can write and rewrite lists and other forms of handwritten paperwork over and over again. Although these behaviors may be frustrating and aggravating to friends and loved ones, it is important to remember that although bizarre, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder always has a certain rationale, if it’s illogical.
Common Symptoms of Symmetry OCD
Common Obsessions of Symmetry OCD
People with Symmetry are often diagnosed at an earlier age than those experiencing other subtypes of OCD. Many people with this form of OCD feel miserable and helpless because although they hate the condition, they feel powerless to stop these behaviors due to the intense anxiety that arises when they attempt to do so. Others feel that their behavior and preoccupation are necessary, logical, and appropriate.
Some common obsessions that occur within Symmetry OCD include:
- Being concerned that something will happen if an object at home or work is uneven (pillows on the bed or books on the bookcase)
- Intense anxiety over asymmetry
- Extreme need for balance, such placing items symmetrically or walking with the same amount of pressure on each foot
Common Compulsions of Symmetry OCD
People without OCD may like symmetry as well and find it appealing, but those with OCD will be extremely preoccupied and obsessive about it and become completely fixated on adjusting items until they are perfect or just right. Therefore, it is not uncommon for individuals suffering from symmetry to also be suffering from perfection OCD and ‘just right’ OCD.
Some common compulsions that occur within Symmetry OCD include:
- Wanting to write the exact number of words on each line on the page and keeping words directly symmetrical
- Rewriting words and letters until there are no visible imperfections or asymmetries in their handwriting
- Lining and arranging their clothes or shoes in a certain manner in the closet
- Avoiding areas that have symmetrical geometric shapes so they don’t feel compelled to trace the edges with their eyes
Treatment for Symmetry OCD
People suffering from Symmetry 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 Symmetry OCD. Like all types of OCD, Symmetry 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 Sub-Types of OCD
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.
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