OCD Symptoms In Adults: 11 Symptoms To Watch For

Reviewed by Laura Angers, LPC

Published 06/21/2022

When it comes to OCD or obsessive-compulsive disorder, you may want to know what the warning signs are. You might have seen this disorder portrayed in movies or on television but are curious about what it looks like in real life. Here is a look at the condition, including possible causes, risk factors, and symptoms that you should be concerned about, as well as possible treatment options.

What Is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

OCD is a condition where a person will experience different obsessions, which are thoughts that appear repeatedly, and compulsions, which are repeated urges. This is where the name of the disorder comes from. The condition can last for many years and will likely require treatment to see a lessening of symptoms and for the disorder to have less of an effect on a person’s routine and life.


There is no definitive cause of OCD, but it is thought that people can develop it due to a problem with serotonin levels and how the brain processes it. This is because some treatment options change the serotonin level in the body, and these options have been able to help people see relief from certain symptoms. This information is described in an article published by Penn Psychiatry.

Risk Factors

Risk factors for OCD are clearer than the causes around the illness. Here are some possible risk factors.

  • A family member with OCD
  • Experiencing depression
  • Abuse
  • Neglect or trauma

Symptoms Of OCD

Here are signs of OCD or OCD Symptoms in Adults to Watch For


Obsessions are thoughts that you do not want in your head that continues to return. They may be pictures in someone’s head, ideas, or something else. Here are some symptoms you might see when it comes to obsessions.

  1. Needing things to look a certain way, such as a pile of things, must be arranged orderly.
  2. Being aware of how many times you or others blink or breathe.
  3. Feeling like there are germs everywhere and being afraid of them.
  4. Having thoughts about hurting other people.


Compulsions are actions that a person with OCD will perform many times a day, to keep some of their obsessions at bay or because they feel like these things must be completed. Check out these examples.

  1. Constantly checking to see if doors are locked.
  2. Saying the same word or words to yourself.
  3. Organizing things in your house a certain way.
  4. Doing tasks a specific number of times.
  5. Cleaning your home or hands excessively.
  6. May develop a tic, where you repeatedly blink, jerk your body, or make a specific sound each time you speak.
  7. Often counting to yourself and counting other things.

A few other OCD symptoms are important to note, including that a person with OCD will spend at least 1 hour each day on these rituals or compulsions, but usually it will take up more time, every day. This is likely to lead to a disruption in other things that need to get done throughout the day, so it can greatly impact a person’s life. Moreover, OCD may cause someone to be unable to control the thoughts that are in their head.

When a person experiences OCD, they won’t have all of the symptoms listed above, but they may have some. Their symptoms will change in severity from time to time too, so there can be many changes as the disease progresses. However, when you reach out for treatment for OCD, this is a decision that may help alleviate the symptoms you do have, and you can learn how to manage your time and your obsessions and compulsions. There are a number of ways that doctors treat OCD.

If you are experiencing the symptoms mentioned above, consider taking this OCD test to learn more about what you can do.

When To Seek Treatment

In some cases of OCD, a person will be unable to determine that their obsessions or compulsions are outside of how others behave, so they may not notice it at first. However, once you notice that you have symptoms relating to OCD, you should talk to a psychiatrist to get your treatment plan started. When OCD and the symptoms relating to it are taking up a lot of time in your life, and having trouble getting important things accomplished, it may be time to see a doctor.

Moreover, if someone you care about is experiencing OCD symptoms, you may want to speak to a therapist for yourself as well. A psychologist might teach you how to stay supportive of your loved one and other tools that can help you.


Like with other mental health conditions, OCD is generally treated through the use of medicines and psychotherapy.


Many types of prescriptions are used to treat OCD, and it will depend on the symptoms that are expressed and what works well for an individual. For instance, if someone doesn’t see a change with a certain medicine after a few months, they may have to try something different. This aspect of the treatment process is talked about in Psychiatry. The process of finding the most beneficial prescription can take a while, so it is important to be patient and trust your mental health professional.


Psychotherapy can also be a tool for treating OCD because it can show a person how to manage their obsessions and compulsions, including thinking differently about them and changing their behaviors. A therapist will tailor their therapy treatment depending on what a person with OCD is experiencing with the most severity.

In many cases, medicines and psychotherapy are used together to help treat symptoms of OCD. A doctor may also ask you to do other things when you are at home, which might help you with your treatment.

Follow Through

Once you have a treatment plan to follow and are working with a psychiatrist, it is important to follow the steps they have laid out for you. In other words, if the doctor prescribes “homework” to do at your house, you must do you best to take it seriously and complete it. This also includes taking your medicines if required. When you follow these steps, you may be able to see OCD has less impact on your life.

Learn As Much As You Can

Another thing that can be beneficial during the process is to learn as much about the disorder as you can. Check out medically reviewed articles and medical journals online to learn more about OCD symptoms and treatment options, as well as how they work and how other people have been treated successfully. This may be able to give you the hope or motivation that you need.


OCD can cause someone to feel anxious, which is hard to counteract. However, when you take a few minutes to not think about things or just have a break, you may feel better. You might choose to just sit down for a couple of moments or look outside your window to relax.

Get A Hobby

You may also consider getting a hobby. This can give you a chance to put your energy into something new, like putting together puzzles, making artwork, or baking. Try to choose something you are interested in, and that isn’t too complicated. Then when you are feeling stressed, you can take some time to invest in your hobby.


There is no cure for OCD, but this doesn’t mean that its symptoms will greatly impact people that experience it. In fact, the condition itself can change in severity the longer a person has it, and when it is properly treated, it can be less severe.

When someone is experiencing the obsessions and compulsions that are common with OCD, this might take a lot of time out of their day. However, when they are following a treatment program, they might be able to cut down this time to do things that they need to get done, like daily chores or their job. It may be a daily struggle to keep these aspects in check, but it is possible.

Ensure that you follow the doctor’s orders and take your medicines as directed for the best results. Stay focused on feeling better and remember to hang in there. You may start to feel better soon, and all of your hard work will be worth it.

If you have not reached out for treatment for OCD, it isn’t too late. The disorder may cause you to experience other disorders as well, so you owe it to yourself to get the support that is available to you. Getting treatment for any condition that is affecting your quality of life is essential. Take this step today.