Understanding Whether Perfectionism & OCD Are The Same

Published 06/22/2022

Many people out there don’t have a very clear understanding of what obsessive-compulsive disorder truly is. In fact, many people assume that OCD is very similar to perfectionism. While it’s easy to see why some people might draw comparisons between these two things, it’s not really right to say that perfectionism is the same as OCD.

OCD is a mental health condition that makes it tough for many people to live their lives. There might be some perfectionism elements that can get mixed in when someone is experiencing OCD symptoms, but that doesn’t mean that the two are the same. You’ll find that some people wrongly refer to OCD as an extreme type of perfectionism. This isn’t a very accurate way to categorize OCD or what it’s all about.

Sometimes this misconception comes about due to OCD symptoms seeming like they’re related to perfectionism somehow, but you’ll learn how the two are different by reading on. You might have heard people throwing around the term OCD jokingly, which has led some to not take it as seriously as they should. By reading the information below, you should gain a much greater understanding of what OCD is and what it isn’t.

Understanding OCD

Understanding OCD becomes a lot simpler when you take a look at people who have been diagnosed with the condition. OCD is generally defined as a mental health disorder where someone has unwanted urges or thoughts that cause anxiety. When someone has OCD, they’re going to be compelled to do certain things. Each person who has OCD might feel compelled to do different things than someone else. For instance, one individual with OCD might obsessively lock and unlock the doors to their home before they feel safe enough to leave. Another individual might fear germs and could obsessively wash their hands even if it causes them physical pain.

People with OCD often have compulsions that make it difficult for them to do things fast or live normally. Some OCD compulsions are very harmless and won’t impact things that much, but others can be adamant about dealing with them. There are people with compulsions that will cause self-harm, and there are also people who just feel the need to perform actions that make it hard for them to do things in a timely fashion. You might have heard about some people who have OCD feel the need to touch every item in a room before they leave the room. You can imagine how difficult this would make it for someone to go to various places.

It’s also important to understand that people who have OCD understand that they shouldn’t need to do these things. For the most part, people who have OCD realize that there isn’t a logical reason why they should need to perform these compulsive actions. However, when they don’t perform the actions, it will make them feel an overwhelming sense of anxiety. This anxiety level can make it so that they will not be able to function or enjoy whatever it is that they were trying to do.

Understanding Perfectionism

Perfectionism is different from OCD because it’s more about feeling the need to do your very best. Some people who are considered perfectionists will have a hard time letting go of certain things before they feel that they’re ready. A good example would be painting something and just keeps fine-tuning things because they want everything to be absolutely perfect. There might not be such a thing as perfection, which makes it tough for people to ever truly feel like they have done enough.

You have to understand that perfectionism isn’t the same as OCD, though. Someone who is a perfectionist might have the capacity to be diagnosed with OCD, but not all perfectionists are people with OCD. You can be a perfectionist and just be the type of person who wants everything to turn out perfectly. This is something that can be very counterproductive in your personal life and in your professional life. When you’re a perfectionist, it can be hard to turn things in on time because you spend so much time agonizing over little details.

Think about a college student who is given a deadline for turning in an essay. This student might have a difficult time turning in the essay on time if they are a perfectionist. This could mean that the student will try to hang onto the essay for as long as possible because they will make it turn out absolutely perfect. Sometimes this causes students to miss deadlines because they worry too much about making things turn outright. It would actually be better to turn the essay in on time, but perfectionism can sometimes keep people from doing this.

Perfectionism can harm your work life as well, and it makes sense that you would struggle with time issues if you’re a perfectionist. In the professional world, people are generally going to need to get things done efficiently. It isn’t always about turning something in that is as close to perfection as possible. It’s about keeping things moving along while ensuring that the quality of your work is acceptable.

This doesn’t mean that doing a good job doesn’t matter, but it does mean that perfectionism can be a detriment. Perfectionism can keep people from being able to meet the standards that are being set. This is why many people have to curb their perfectionist tendencies. If you consider yourself a perfectionist, you probably already know that it can be tough to ever feel like something is good enough. However, you also likely know that you have to let go of those feelings so that you can get things turned in on time.

OCD Is A Much Bigger Issue Than Perfectionism

OCD is certainly a much bigger issue than perfectionism, and those who have been diagnosed with OCD often need help coping with the condition. There are many different ways to treat OCD, which will make managing the condition a lot easier. This doesn’t mean that OCD symptoms will suddenly disappear, but it can make it easier to live your life more normally. Many people diagnosed with OCD will start taking medications that are meant to help with the disorder. A significant number of patients respond well to SSRI medications, but this isn’t the right solution for everyone who has OCD.

You’ll also find that various forms of psychotherapy are being used to treat OCD patients worldwide. Therapy is considered to be very helpful for people who are trying to cope with OCD. Different therapy methods have proven to be effective for people, and the type of therapy that might work for you if you have OCD depends on the situation. Generally, you’re going to need to work with a therapist and your doctor to figure out the best path forward, and you’ll start going through therapy options based on that.

Exposure therapy has worked well for some people, and it involves being exposed to something that causes you anxiety. For instance, someone who has OCD might feel anxious when they don’t touch the doorknob a certain number of times when leaving or entering a room. Exposure therapy could involve having someone enter a room that has no doorknob or making it so that they can’t do the thing that they’re normally compelled to do. Over time, someone might start to feel differently about this action due to prolonged exposure. They might see that nothing bad occurs despite their anxiety when they don’t follow through with their compulsion.

Another therapy method that is commonly used to treat OCD is behavioral training. Certain types of therapy are designed to change the ways that people behave. You might be able to change how you react to a situation or behave based on your time in therapy. Sometimes this will involve learning to come up with competing responses to combat the compulsions that you experience. It can also involve social support, positive reinforcement, and various relaxation-based coping mechanisms. The exact way your therapist will try to help you alter your behaviors will vary, but this has proven to be very useful for many people who have OCD.

If you’re feeling anxious about OCD symptoms, then you might want to take an anxiety test to determine how bad things are. Always know that you can speak to your doctor about any issues that you are having. It can take time and patience to get OCD symptoms under control. You don’t have to feel like you’re facing these issues alone, and it’ll be better to work with professionals who care about your well-being.

Now that you know more about OCD, it should be pretty easy to tell that perfectionism is different. It’s not impossible for someone who is a perfectionist to also have OCD, but the two things simply aren’t the same. That being said, sometimes it can be beneficial to go to therapy if you’re struggling with being a perfectionist, too. You might be able to get help with altering the way that you think about things. Therapy helps many people, and you can get assistance, whether you have OCD or feel that being a perfectionist makes your life tougher in some ways.