3 Weird Signs You Might Have OCD

Symptoms of OCD

When you think about obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), does it conjure up images of people who wash their hands until they’re raw, check locks repeatedly, or arrange items in very specific ways? If so, you would be correct because behaviors like these are quite characteristic of this condition.

Symptoms of OCD are generally diagnosed in late adolescence, and affect about 1 in 40 adults in the U.S, although 1 in 200 children are diagnosed with it each year as well. This disorder causes recurring thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive behaviors (compulsions) that temporarily “neutralize” the distressing thoughts.

While everyone has disturbing thoughts on occasion, such thoughts are usually transient and can be easily dismissed. What differentiates people who have OCD is that the thoughts are persistent, unwanted, and intrusive, but won’t go away. The rituals or behaviors that help to decrease the anxiety generated by the thoughts can become so time-consuming that a person’s entire day might revolve around them. Thus, the obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors can interfere with many aspects of someone’s life, including relationships, work or school, social activities, and family.

In OCD, obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors can interfere with many aspects of a person’s life, including relationships, work or school, social activities, and family. Click To Tweet

3 Weird—But Very Real—Symptoms of OCD

Beyond the more obvious ways OCD shows up in many people, there are some unusual—even weird—symptoms and behaviors that are equally distressing, including these:

1. You Can’t Stop Worrying About the Way You Breathe…or Blink…or Swallow

While all of us pay attention to signals from our bodies, some people with OCD are obsessed with specific body parts or certain bodily functions. This type of body hyperawareness is referred to as overactive interoception monitoring and involves constantly monitoring normal bodily sensations for any problems.

For example, you may be obsessed with your breathing and pay constant attention to every inhale and exhale, wondering if there’s something wrong with the number of breaths you take or if your lungs are working properly. This weird sign of OCD can also involve being overly concerned about your blinking, swallowing, the way your heart beats, how much body hair you have on your arms or back, or the size of your ears. The inability to stop yourself from focusing on it and worrying about it leads to a great deal of distress and anxiety.

The journal, Psychological Medicine, published a study that compared the cognitive sensitivity to heartbeat monitoring in subjects with OCD or panic disorder and healthy controls. Those with OCD outperformed the other two groups, and at the same time had less awareness of doing it as well as less confidence in their ability to correctly focus on their heartbeat. This reflects a common OCD trait which is having doubt that they did something properly or well enough.

2. Being Afraid You’ll Steal Something…or Hit Someone with Your Car

On occasion, everyone has transient dark, violent, or perverse thoughts. They might pop into your head for one reason or another, but they are easily dismissed and most people—thankfully—don’t act on them. What differentiates this from someone with OCD is that not only are the thoughts disturbing, but they won’t go away—you cannot turn them off which, of course, causes considerable anguish.

For example, you might obsess about actions such as:

  • Suddenly losing your sensibility and committing a theft, then regaining composure and having to live with the consequences of bad behavior.
  • Getting in your car and killing another person—accidentally or on purpose.
  • Acting out gory or horrifying thoughts on someone in public.

Although people with OCD are less inclined to intentionally do something wrong, a person who struggles with intrusive and disturbing thoughts like these may stay home as much as possible to minimize their concerns of losing control and inadvertently harming someone.

3. Being the First One to Arrive at Work…and the Last to Leave

What’s so weird about showing up to work early and being the last one out of the office? It’s a sign of out-of-control perfectionism. Doing things well is considered a virtue in most cultures—and for good reasons. It can lead to the achievement of goals, meaningful accomplishments, and a sense of pride in having put your best foot forward—and the sense of satisfaction that comes with that. Perfectionism likely has some components of obsessiveness that drive the intense focus, but in and of itself it does not meet the criteria for OCD.

However, perfectionism and OCD often do go hand-in-hand. A research study published in the Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic noted that OCD and perfectionism are, in fact, closely correlated, especially in patients whose subtype of OCD is arranging things in order.

What separates perfectionism in people who have OCD versus those who don’t is the degree to which perfectionistic behaviors are taken. Those with the disorder go all out to ensure there are no flaws in their job or school performance, relationships, or other pursuits. For instance, they might go into work early, stay late, and go to an extreme in checking to make sure everything they have done is absolutely perfect.

They believe their value as a person is predicated on not making mistakes. Unfortunately—and because of this distorted belief—if someone points out that they’ve made an error, it can be utterly devastating. They are likely to quit whatever it is they were doing, even if it is something they love because they feel like a complete failure. In their mind, things are only black or white.

OCD can be a devastating mental illness, but most cases are treatable. With a combination of psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, to address the abnormal and often “magical” thinking processes, and medication and/or brain-directed nutrients to help balance brain function, a person can develop healthier ways to manage their thoughts and behaviors.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and other mental health problems shouldn’t wait.

At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, remote clinical evaluations, and video therapy for adults, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.


  1. The sheer lack of properly trained CBT/ERP therapists is alarming. The use of Transcranial Magnectic Stimulation shows great promise. Unfortunately OCD continues to be treated with approaches like doing the same thing over and over expecting a different outcome!

    Comment by Bill — June 28, 2021 @ 5:53 AM

  2. Is there a study that connects ocd parents with abusive physically and mentally parents. Developed as a defence respons?

    Comment by Pam — June 28, 2021 @ 8:51 AM

  3. Wow !!!Way to help end the stigma of mental illness by using the word ‘Weird’ it is different but using negative labels like ‘weird’ actually shames people and prevents them from asking for help and there are plenty of therapists who think certain behaviors like this with mental illness is weird also and they do not like to treat people who have these issues , please do better

    Comment by Amy — June 28, 2021 @ 9:45 AM

  4. EMDR. has also been proven to be an effective modality that can treat OCD in patients. Significant evidenced based research has been compiled on this method of neuro psychotherapy

    Comment by Clarice — June 29, 2021 @ 4:00 AM

  5. I have followed you for years but this article is not the best information or perspective of OCD. I work as a trauma healer outside the medical system. You could learn from people like myself who have reversed severe OCD within a 3-month program with a combination of 3 natural sciences. The root issue is trauma and understanding that assists in the way I go about healing and rewiring the brain. If you are ever open to a conversation I would love to share with you as I feel your heart is in the correct place but sometimes we get stuck on this is the way to treat this….electrolyzed reduced water, PTSD brain protocol, childhood trauma brain protocol, and then OCD brain protocol, with trauma release from the body produces a healed person. I have clients who can testify and now video footage of my work. I am a pioneer. The medical tyranny does not support healers, but when the medical field comes crashing down we will still be standing with love.

    Comment by Heather — June 29, 2021 @ 7:24 AM

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