Overcoming OCD
Information for College Students

What Other Symptoms Might Be OCD?

Noticing what’s wrong is a big step towards getting treatment and getting better.

OCD symptoms can be as varied as the people who have them.  But there are some “red flags” that can indicate OCD or another anxiety disorder. Noticing what’s wrong is a big step towards getting treatment and getting better.

Does this sound like YOU?

  • OCD takes up so much time in the morning that you’re constantly late for class or you have to perform certain actions or mental rituals between classes, such as praying, counting, saying certain phrases, counting steps or leaving a room only to have to reenter it many times until you feel OK about leaving it.
  • You try to know everything or remember everything.  Normal studying isn’t good enough for you.  Maybe you spend time rereading, rewriting and rechecking everything multiple times so you won’t make a mistake.
  • You have a lot of trouble paying attention in class or concentrating on homework assignments because you are constantly thinking about your fears or “bad” thoughts, and trying not to perform the actions that would make you feel better temporarily. You would be embarrassed if anyone saw you perform the compulsions in class or in public.
  • You’re not able to complete in-class assignments or homework assignments because “it’s never done well enough” or isn’t “right” and you always seem to run out of time.
  • You worry that you didn’t actually complete the test or assignment, or maybe you missed going to class entirely.  It doesn’t make sense, but you still worry about it.
  • Your compulsive actions take up so much time at night that not only is your homework not done (and maybe your roommate is fed up with you) but you’re also up so late you’re not getting enough sleep—and you’re so tired the next day you can barely make it through your classes.
  • You worry that you might have been somehow dishonest, or even cheated inadvertently on a test.
  • You used to receive good grades, but now your grades have slipped and you realize it’s because obsessions and compulsions are getting in the way of studying, participating in class or completing homework assignments.
  • Your uncontrollable fears, worries and unwanted thoughts are severely straining relationships with friends, roommates, other people in classes, a teacher, the dorm manager or residence hall advisor or a boyfriend or girlfriend.
  • You’re afraid you might seriously hurt someone because you can’t stop thinking about hurting them, or you keep having violent or bizarre thoughts about hurting others.
  • You’re praying all the time but you still feel God is mad at you or you’ve done something bad. The prayers have to be done perfectly so if anyone interrupts you, you have to start over again.  You may be afraid that you will blurt out some obscenity in church.  You might even have bizarre thoughts involving violence or sex and a religious figure.
  • You’re constantly cleaning your room or doing laundry.  What happened to going out and having fun?  Now you don’t have time because everything is so dirty.  Maybe you’re avoiding class because people cough and sneeze without covering their mouths, and everything is covered with germs.

These symptoms may be OCD or may be caused by a related condition.  Either way, you should seek treatment so that you can get relief:

  • You’re so distressed over your appearance that you simply can’t go to class or face anyone, including your friends.  You’re miserable about how you look.  Maybe you’ve stopped going out altogether.
  • It may seem you’ve always been concerned about your weight, but now you’re “obsessed” with it, constantly reviewing your appearance. Maybe you’re not eating hardly anything, or making yourself vomit after a meal to keep from gaining weight.
  • You secretly pull out hair, bite your nails, or pick at your skin.  At first, you didn’t worry too much about it, but now you’re starting to see some “bare” spots in your hair, or your nails are so bitten that they bleed.  Maybe you’ve picked at your skin so much that you are starting to develop “sores,” but you continue to pick nonetheless.  You’re afraid people will notice but you can’t stop. 

If any of this sounds like you (or someone you know), speak up.  As hard as it might be to ask for help, or talk about obsessions and compulsions with anyone, living with OCD (or a related anxiety disorder) is much harder.  And it won’t get better if you don’t get treatment.  The sooner you start getting treatment, the sooner you can start being more like the YOU you used to be.

There are also other anxiety disorders that are not OCD but have symptoms like those above.  Read more about what symptoms and behaviors AREN’T OCD or might be related conditions:

What OCD Isn’t

Related Conditions

Treatment for OCD

Books about OCD

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