Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a psychological disorder belonging to the group of anxiety disorders. It is a relatively common problem that is believed to affect 2% of people.

OCD is characterized by repeated and persistent invasive thoughts that cause conditions or states of unrest such as restlessness, worry, fear, and anxiety.

Psychologist M.ª José Polo Carrillo of the cabinet Psychologists Málaga PsicoAbreu states that, in response to these fears, the person begins to perform repetitive actions in the form of compulsive rituals that are beyond his control. These compulsions momentarily relieve the anxiety and worry caused by the obsessive ideas until the anxiety progressively rises again, thus forming a vicious circle from which it is very difficult to get out.

Causes of OCD

Although the causes of obsessive-compulsive disorder cannot yet be determined, there are known factors that could explain its occurrence. The disease is known to affect men and women equally and often begins in adolescence. It is not ruled out that its first symptoms may also appear in early adulthood. In many cases there are genetic factors that precipitate its later development, and in other cases the trigger is a stressful event such as trauma, death of a family member, separation, etc.

A certain effectiveness of antidepressants that inhibit the reuptake of serotonin is observed in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder and this leads us to think that it may be due to an alteration in the levels of serotonin, which is the neurotransmitter responsible for the regulation of mood, aggression and impulsivity.


The symptoms of OCD vary depending on the type of behavioral patterns that are reproduced . Let’s look at the main categories that serve to group these symptoms (and that usually occur at the same time in the same person).


Obsessions that revolve around scrupulosity, forbidden thoughts, aggressive ideas , fear of causing harm to others, ideas of sexual content, seeking symmetry in everything, fear of contamination.


Compulsions or repetitive actions that have to do with behaviors such as making sure you have closed doors, turned off lights, turned off the water, etc. Or behaviors such as washing, ordering things, touching certain things or touching them in a certain way, counting, etc.

Categories: types of patients

Because of the nature of obsessive thinking in people with OCD, the following categories have been established.

1. Testers

They execute repetitive actions to make sure everything is OK . For example, they make sure they have turned off the light, closed the door, etc.

2. Collectors

They keep objects without knowing how to get rid of them.

3. Computers

These people need things to have a rigid and symmetrical distribution . The obsessive idea revolves around the idea of perfection, but this perfectionism is pathological, since the moment never comes when the person is satisfied.

4. Washers

Their attention and concerns are focused on hygiene , so they are obsessed with real or hypothetical dirt. In addition, some believe that they have a disease.

5. Sexual

They often have recurring sexual thoughts and behaviors.

6. With excessive responsibility

These people say they always have to do the right thing and in specific circumstances.

7. With magical thinking

People have unpleasant thoughts in which a certain action is related to disastrous consequences that are objectively not linked to the above in any way .

For example, a person may think that if he doesn’t do things the same way all the time, it could lead to an illness, an accident or something serious for him and for some of his family members.

8. Counters

They present the need to count : cars, numbers, windows, etc.

9. Hypochondriacs

They are defined by the belief that they have a disease and constantly go to doctors, get tests, search for information on the Internet, forums, etc.

Treatment of OCD

In the treatment of this anxiety disorder, medication is useful to alleviate the symptoms, decreasing the frequency and intensity, but the treatment always will have to be combined with a specialized psychological therapy .

The psychologist M.ª José Polo defends that one of the most used techniques in the treatment of the OCD is the therapy of exhibition and prevention of response , which help the patient to learn effective strategies to control the obsessive thought and to diminish the behavior that causes alterations in its daily life.

For example, at the Málaga Psychologists’ Office, PsicoAbreu, which has more than 24 years of experience in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder, works with different psychological tools and techniques to help the person with OCD in his or her treatment, including the aforementioned therapy.

The person with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder must understand that he or she must be constant and responsible in his or her treatment , both in following the medication guidelines prescribed by the medical practitioner, and in learning and reproducing the strategies learned in the psychotherapy sessions. To this end, it is essential to have the help of a specialist psychologist who will guide the doubts that may arise throughout the psychological treatment from beginning to end.