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OCD vs. OCPD: What's the Difference?

Medically Reviewed by Poonam Sachdev on August 17, 2022

You’ve probably heard of OCD or obsessive compulsive disorder. But have you heard of OCPD? OCPD, or obsessive compulsive personality disorder, shares some similarities to OCD, but there are also many differences between the two. Let’s compare OCD vs. OCPD. 

OCD vs. OCPD

OCD is a mental health disorder characterized by excessive thoughts and repetitive behaviors. OCPD, on the other hand, is a personality disorder. Unlike a mental health disorder that may be short-term and treatable, a personality disorder is a lifelong disorder that disrupts thoughts, behavior, and mood. These issues can cause great distress to an individual.

OCD Symptoms vs. OCPD Symptoms

The characteristics of a person who has OCD come down to excessive and sometimes intrusive thoughts, images, and impulses. Some of the most common obsessions in OCD patients include:

  • Contamination: Fear of contamination from body fluids, germs, household chemicals, and environmental pollutants
  • Sexual: Unwanted sexual thoughts and mental images
  • Violent: Excessive fear of harming oneself or someone else, or excessive mental images of violence or horror
  • Religious: Obsessive concern regarding offending God or being damned
  • Identity: Obsessive thoughts regarding sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Responsibility: Fear of something terrible happening and being responsible or fear of causing harm to someone by not being careful enough
  • Perfectionism: Fear of making mistakes and obsessive concern with being perfect
  • Relationships: Excessive fear regarding one’s partner and the flaws and qualities of the partner

Compulsions in OCD include:

  • Excessive washing and cleaning
  • Repeating words or tasks 
  • Overchecking situations to make sure that you did not harm others
  • Rearranging things until they feel right
  • Counting while doing a task 
  • Praying to prevent harm

Symptoms specific to those with OCPD include: 

  • Obsessive devotion to work that affects other activities
  • Obsessive fixation on rules, lists, and details that are minor 
  • The inability to finish tasks due to excessive perfectionism 
  • Obsession with moral and ethical codes 
  • Hoarding tendencies

Diagnosing OCD vs. OCPD

OCD has no tests available for diagnosing it in individuals. Instead, your health care professional will ask you a series of questions to make the diagnosis. These questions often relate to specific factors like obsessions and compulsions.

On the other hand, to receive an OCPD diagnosis, you must exhibit four or more symptoms out of the following eight signs: 

  • Perfectionism that limits finishing tasks
  • Neglecting relationships due to a devotion to work 
  • Hoarding money for worst-case scenarios 
  • Obsessing over ethics, value, and morality 
  • Not wanting to assign tasks without a guarantee that those assigned will perform them exactly as asked
  • Not wanting to part with worthless items 
  • A disposition that is stubborn or rigid 
  • Obsession with maintaining order by using lists, schedules, and rules

In addition to meeting at least four of the above symptoms, they must have been present in a long-term pattern that formed prior to early adulthood. The diagnosis of OCPD will involve a screening questionnaire, much like an OCD diagnosis. In this questionnaire, you will be required to report on your own behaviors throughout the year. Once the screening is complete, your health care professional will conduct an interview with you. They may also gather information from your family, friends, and peers. 

A mental health professional will also need to rule out other similar disorders. They will want to make sure that you don't have OCD instead. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to tell OCD and OCPD apart. This may make you feel hesitant to seek help or a diagnosis if you suspect that you have OCPD. But it’s important to realize that receiving a formal diagnosis can help give you insight and a better understanding of yourself. It will also help you in moving forward. 

Differences Between OCPD and OCD

The main difference between these two disorders is that OCD can develop later on in life from certain factors or events, whereas OCPD is a personality disorder that a person is born with.  

Those with OCPD have a lot of the same symptoms. But what makes these two disorders different is the fact that individuals with OCPD often lack self-awareness. This means that they're more susceptible to acting on their impulses without realizing them and causing harm to themselves or those around them. 

Another difference between OCD and OCPD patients is that people with OCD attempt to control specific factors to disengage their obsessions. On the other hand, people with OCPD usually like to control the whole situation at large. 

There are also emotional differences between patients with OCD and OCPD. For example, those with OCD are more prone to feeling anxious, especially when things aren’t how they want them to be. People with OCPD are more susceptible to feelings of anger and rage instead.

Another stark difference between these two disorders is that people with OCD are often insecure about their obsessions and compulsions, whereas OCPD patients do their best to hide their insecurities not just from others but also from themselves.

Lastly, OCD patients like to engage in compulsive behaviors and rituals, while OCPD patients prefer to plan and work.

OCD Treatment vs. OCPD Treatment

While these two disorders are distinct, there’s no denying that there’s also a significant link between the two, with similar symptoms. Treatment can be difficult, especially for those who have both disorders. With the co-occurrence of these disorders, the effects and symptoms of OCD are often amplified, leading to a higher rate of depression and alcohol consumption. 

Additionally, those who have both OCD and OCPD seem not to respond well to cognitive behavioral therapy. They also don't respond well to exposure and ritual prevention. This could be due to OCPD patients' issues with commitment and trust. It can take time and patience to see results in the treatment of these two disorders. 

Show Sources

SOURCES:

Anxiety.org: “Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Are Distinct But Share Some Traits.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Personality Disorders.”

GoodTherapy: “Do you Have OCD or OCPD? Know the Difference.”

HelpGuide: “Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD).”

International OCD Foundation: “What is OCD?”

McMaster University: “OCD vs OCPD.”

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