Are random, die-hard habits a form of OCD or are they just weird personality quirks? Does someone you know have habits or rituals that disrupt their life and make make them feel anxious or upset when they can’t see them through to completion? Quirks or habits that cause anxiety or prohibit someone from living a full life need to be addressed professionally. But sometimes a quirk is just a quirk, it's not disruptive or debilitating. But how does one know the difference between little quirks and a true disorder?
Spend a little bit of time online or listening to your friends chat and you’ll probably hear at least one person refer to themselves or someone else as “being” OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). This characterization is often thrown around by people who have no idea what the disorder really is and how it can impact a person’s life. In most cases, people who think they are “acting” OCD really just have their own unique personality quirks. How do we know the difference between a personality quirk, OCD, or even OCPD?
Understanding Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
OCD, or obsessive compulsive disorder, is a serious mental health disorder that causes individuals to have thoughts and feelings they don’t necessarily want, but can’t seem to get away from. Individuals with OCD struggle with anxiety, compulsive behaviors, and complete obsessions over certain aspects of their lives. It is in repeated behaviors that they can get relief from these thoughts and feelings, but only temporarily. And while many people say they “have OCD,” the main difference between the behavior of those who do and don’t experience this disorder is control. Those who do not have OCD have more control over their thoughts and feelings and, consequently, their behavior.
An individual with OCD can have obsessions, compulsions or both. Each characteristic is thematic. For example, a person obsessed with order may be physically or emotionally incapable of leaving the house unless every specific item they come into contact with is in its perceived place. A very common compulsion is hand washing. The person who continues to wash has very little conscious control over what they are doing. It just needs to be done.
Exploring Personality Quirks and Disorders
Personality quirks, even those rooted in OCPD (obsessive compulsive personality disorder), are completely different from OCD. While OCD is a mental health disorder, personality quirks are a behavioral issue and OCPD is considered a personality disorder.
A true personality quirk is something that makes a person unique. They wear huge ribbons in their hair every single day or they like to wear the same bright red pants several times per week. Quirks are amusing, but harmless. Someone with a personality quirk may have a ritual they like to follow before leaving the house, but not following it doesn’t send them into a mental tailspin --- they have complete control over their thoughts surrounding the situation.
Personality quirks cross the line towards OCPD when a person’s desire to stick to their own mental guidelines starts to get in the way of a normal life. People with OCPD like to be in control of their relationships, live by lists and rules, are devoted to their jobs, and are sticklers for the rules.
The main difference between someone with OCD and OCPD is that a person with OCPD has conscious control of their thoughts regarding any given situation, even though those thought patterns aren’t usually correct. For example, someone with OCD will become upset by their symptoms and may seek help. People with OCPD see nothing wrong with their thought patterns or rituals, truly believing they are working towards accomplishing a goal.
While a simple personality quirk is usually relatively harmless, it can sometimes be tough to tell the difference between OCD and OCPD. People who think they have either disorder should immediately seek professional assistance from a doctor or psychiatrist. While psychological testing is paramount, a doctor will also order blood work and other testing to rule out underlying medical causes. Once there is a solid diagnosis, a strong treatment plan can be created to control the symptoms so the person suffering can lead a healthier, more productive life.
~ Here’s to Your Health and Wellness