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What are Common OCD Thoughts?


Updated July 09, 2014

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OCD Thoughts
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Question: What are Common OCD Thoughts?


A core OCD symptom is obsessions, which are unwanted, distressing, and uncontrollable thoughts that are often of a disturbing nature. Common OCD thoughts include:

  • Worrying constantly about catching a deadly disease and/or that you will contaminate others with your germs.

  • Fears about contamination with environmental toxins, such as lead or radioactivity.

  • An intense fear that something horrible will happen to a loved one.

  • Profound worry that you will do something extremely embarrassing, like screaming out an obscenity at a funeral.

  • Believing you may hit someone with your car or injure someone unknowingly.

  • Aggressive or disturbing ideas, such as thoughts of murdering your partner or child.

  • Disturbing sexual and/or religious imagery that might include sexual assault or inappropriate sexual acts.

  • A strong need to re-order things until they feel "just right".

  • A fear of harming inanimate objects.

Interestingly, research has shown that strange and disturbing thoughts pop into the mind of most of the population on a daily basis. While most people continue about their daily routine without giving these experiences a second thought, if you have OCD, these kinds of occurrences can become both distressing and debilitating.

Indeed, if you have OCD, you may be overreact to such thoughts by trying to suppress them, which only causes them to come back worse than before. Of course, this leads to more thought suppression, which leads to experiencing more distressing thoughts. This is how obsessions might, in part, be created.

Although distressing, it is important to remember that both psychological and medical treatments can be effective in reducing the intensity and frequency of OCD thoughts.


American Psychiatric Association. "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th ed., text revision" 2000 Washington, DC: Author.

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