What Is the Difference Between Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) have similar sounding names and share some common symptoms. However, these are two separate and distinct mental health disorders. OCD was formerly classified as an anxiety disorder, but now it is currently classified as an obsessive-compulsive and related disorder. Meanwhile, OCPD is classified as a personality disorder. 

Understanding the difference between mental health disorders with similar names is always important. When discussing mental health disorders, it is important to have a clear understanding in order to reduce stigma and raise awareness.

Personality Disorders vs. Anxiety Disorders

There are a variety of different disorder classifications when it comes to mental health. It is helpful to understand a little bit about personality disorders and anxiety disorders when working to understand the differences between OCD and OCPD. 

Personality Disorders

When a person is experiencing a personality disorder, they have unhelpful or harmful patterns of feeling, thinking, and behaving. These patterns can cause problems in their ability to function well in their lives. More specifically, personality disorders can cause problems for a person in their relationships with other people. Because of this, it can lead to issues in work, school, and social situations as well.

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders involve more than just the normal anxieties a person might face due to unexpected stress or changes in their lives. When a person experiences an anxiety disorder, they experience symptoms that do not dissipate over time and often get worse. Symptoms can include restlessness, irritability, and increased heart rate. These symptoms can interfere with daily activities and pose risks to a person’s health. 

What Is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

OCD is a common mental health disorder that affects women slightly more than men. It is a disorder in which a person experiences repetitive thoughts which become obsessions and compulsions to behave in certain ways. These thoughts and actions interfere with a person’s ability to function and cannot be controlled. 

Common Examples of OCD

There are some common symptoms that accompany OCD. Common obsessions include:

  • Fear of germs, illness, or contamination
  • Uncontrollable thoughts with religious, sexual, or aggressive themes
  • Thoughts about cleaning, organizing, and arranging things in particular orders

Compulsions often result from obsessive thoughts. Common compulsions include:

  •  Repetitive cleaning, hand-washing, or sanitizing, even if things have already been cleaned
  • Keeping things ordered in very particular and precise ways, arranging them over and over
  • Counting things or repeating actions a set number of times 

Everybody might find themselves caught up in repetitive thoughts or behaviors sometimes. However, a person struggling with OCD can’t control their thoughts and behaviors even when they recognize that they are harmful or excessive. Moreover, a person will spend a significant amount of time each day on these thoughts and behaviors. They will have difficulty functioning in their daily lives because of their symptoms.

Treatment for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

OCD is a chronic disorder. This means that it is long-lasting and pervasive over a person’s lifetime. Instead of finding a cure, treatment generally focuses on symptom management. Treatment options generally include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and a combination of medications. Therapy helps individuals process their obsessions and compulsions, while medication helps ease symptoms, like anxiety, that accompany OCD. 

What Is Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder?

OCD and OCPD share some of the same symptoms. However, while people with OCD recognize that their thoughts are problematic but struggle to control them, individuals with OCPD do not see anything wrong with the way they think or behave. OCPD also develops slightly later in a person’s life than OCD. 

Symptoms of OCPD

People who are experiencing OCPD often develop rigid routines and plans for their lives. They are often successful and driven. They feel very strongly about how they believe things should be. Because of this, they can often experience anxiety, frustration, and even anger when things don’t go according to their plan.  

Individuals with OCPD often strive for perfection in every area of their lives. As this disorder often starts to develop in a person’s late teens or early adulthood, the obsessive need for perfection may start to interfere with their lives. Because they hold themselves and others to such rigid standards, they may find it difficult complete tasks and meet deadlines.

Their high standards can also interfere with their ability to form close relationships. They hold others to such a high standard that they might have trouble working with others cooperatively. Withdrawing emotionally from their relationships with others is a common coping mechanism for people struggling with OCPD.

Treatment for Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder

The treatment for OCPD is very similar to the treatment for OCD. Medications can be used to help manage symptoms of anxiety and depression. Psychotherapy is also used to help people realize when their thoughts and feelings are problematic. Additionally, it can help them develop better coping skills and work on their ability to relate to others.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder have similar names and share some symptoms but are distinct and separate conditions. It is important to understand the differences if you have questions for yourself or a loved one. Educating yourself about mental health is the best thing you can do. Alter Wellness Care can help you with any of your mental health care concerns. Our compassionate team is committed to providing the best care to each of our clients. Alter Wellness Care wants to help you achieve all your goals. We have a variety of evidence-based treatment options and educational resources that can help you get on track toward being your best self. Call us today at (866) 311-3510 for more information.

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