OCD vs Anxiety: Difference and Comparison

Mental illness is very common nowadays. Almost every person on this planet in its lifetime faces the problem of mental illness. It is a type of illness where there is a change in behaviour, emotions, thinking etc. It arises due to problems, tension, the stress in work, social life or family activities.

OCD and Anxiety are also types of mental illnesses that are very normal today to be seen.

Key Takeaways

  1. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) involves recurring, unwanted thoughts and compulsive behaviors.
  2. Anxiety disorders manifest as excessive fear or worry that interferes with daily life.
  3. OCD is a specific type of anxiety disorder, but not all anxiety disorders are OCD.

OCD vs Anxiety

OCD is a mental health disorder characterized by repetitive, intrusive thoughts or obsessions and/or repetitive behaviours or compulsions that are performed to relieve the anxiety caused by these thoughts. Anxiety is a mental health condition characterized by feelings of worry, fear, or unease about future events or situations that may be perceived as threatening.

OCD vs

OCD means Obsessive-Compulsive disorder. It is a type of disorder where there is an unwanted urge to do the same things repeatedly. It can be both good and bad. For example, a person may have OCD about washing their hands repeatedly.

Although they want to stop, they are powerless to do so. Each person has a habit of repeating some things. If that habit is not enjoyable, can’t be controlled, or interfere with your daily activities, then chances are there that you might have OCD.

Anxiety is a feeling in which a person has a feeling of dread, uneasiness or fear. Various symptoms can be seen when a person is having anxiety, like restlessness, tension, sweating, fast heartbeat, freeze etc.

It can be very normal for those who are under stress. But it may have severe consequences as well, such as a person having an anxiety attack or disorder can be overwhelming. Anxiety disorders can get worsen over time if not taken care of.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonOCDAnxiety
DefinitionIt is a type of anxiety disorder.It is a feeling of dread and fear.
TypesMental Contamination, Checking, Ruminations, Contamination, Hoarding etc.

GAD, OCD, PTSD, Social Phobia etc.
SymptomsBlinking, Breathing, Fear of touching, Doing tasks in specific order etc.Rapid heartbeat, aches, dizziness, pains, and shortness of breath.
CausesDepression, anxiety, tics, trauma etc.Traumatic events, family history of anxiety, arrhythmia, thyroid etc.
TreatmentMedication, psychotherapy, TMS etc.CBT, Medicines etc.

What is OCD?

 OCD has been categorised into various types like contaminations, ruminations, intrusive thoughts, symmetry, checking, ordering hoarding etc. In checking, there is an obsessive fear and compulsion to check things like door locks, taps, windows, cars, gas lights, electric lights etc.

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In contamination, there is a compulsion to use dirty things or touch them, like using public toilets, chemicals, doorknobs, crowds, dead skin etc. In symmetry and order, there is a need to keep things in line and order in a perfect way.

In OCD, obsessions and compulsions are so common that people who have them don’t enjoy doing it, and neither is their habit. But they do it because they are powerless, and if they stop doing it, they feel so bad that it starts all over again.

There are many reasons for obsessive thoughts like breathing heavily, blinking too fast, worries about yourself or other people getting hurt, suspicious nature without any reason etc. There is no reason why OCD happens. 

Stress can make it worse. There are some causes and risk factors through which OCD can happen, such as depression, anxiety, trauma, a parent or sibling facing OCD, physical or sexual abuse as a child, there may be a physical difference in certain parts of the brain etc.

OCD can be diagnosed using blood tests, physical exams and talking about the thoughts, habits and feelings of a patient. There is no cure for OCD, but there are certain therapies and treatments via which OCD can be minimized.


What is Anxiety?

Anxiety has severe consequences. In anxiety disorder, anxiety doesn’t go away and becomes much worse with time. Because anxiety disorders can interfere with day-to-day life activities, and a person is not able to do his normal activities like work, school or relationships.

There are various types of anxiety disorders like GAD, OCD, PTSD, Phobia, and Panic Disorder. OCD is a type of anxiety disorder. GAD, or Generalized anxiety disorder, is becoming normal.

It starts with feeling normal anxiety, then stress, and then GAD is developed. GAD is one of the excessive forms of anxiety where the person is unable to control his surroundings. Its symptoms are very much similar to OCD, Panic attacks etc.

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GAD can happen to both adults as well as to the child. It can become a long time problem, and living with it can become quite a challenge. But it gets better via therapies like psychotherapy etc.

What causes anxiety is unknown. It can happen due to various factors such as brain biology, genetics, stress, environment etc. There are different types of risk involved for different types of anxiety disorders.

Phobias and GAD are more likely to happen in women, whereas social anxiety can happen to both men and women. Various symptoms include dizziness, restlessness, fatigue, tension, shortness of breath, aches, pains, behavioural changes etc.

Main Differences Between OCD and Anxiety

  1. OCD is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder which is a type of Anxiety disorder. Anxiety is a feeling of dread and fear.
  2. OCD has various types like Mental Contamination, Checking, Ruminations, Contamination, Hoarding etc. Anxiety also has various types, such as GAD, OCD, PTSD, Social Phobia etc.
  3. Symptoms of OCD include Blinking, Breathing, Fear of touching, Doing tasks in specific order etc. Symptoms of Anxiety include rapid heartbeat, aches, dizziness, pains, and shortness of breath.
  4. Causes of OCD are Depression, anxiety, tics, trauma etc. Causes of Anxiety are traumatic events, family history of anxiety, arrhythmia, thyroid etc.
  5. Treatment of OCD includes Medication, psychotherapy, TMS, Neuromodulation etc. Treatment of Anxiety includes CBT, Medicines etc.
Difference Between OCD and
  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0887618515000614
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/da.20699

Last Updated : 10 August, 2023

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21 thoughts on “OCD vs Anxiety: Difference and Comparison”

  1. The information provided here highlights the importance of treatment and therapy for OCD. It’s crucial for those affected to receive the necessary support.

  2. It’s crucial for us to be aware of the potential causes and risk factors related to OCD. Knowledge is key to supporting those affected by this condition.

  3. Anxiety can indeed take a serious toll on an individual’s well-being. Recognizing the symptoms and seeking help is crucial.

  4. This article provides a comprehensive comparison between OCD and anxiety. It’s important to increase awareness about these issues.

  5. Mental illnesses are much more common than we think. The social pressure can make it difficult for people to talk about their struggles. It is important for us to be more understanding and supportive towards others.

  6. Understanding the complexities of OCD and anxiety is important for everyone. This article does a great job of explaining these conditions.


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