Symmetry ocd

by | Sep 18, 2023

Welcome to an in-depth exploration of Symmetry OCD, a lesser-known but highly distressing form of obsessive-compulsive disorder. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the intricacies of Symmetry OCD, covering everything from its symptoms and causes to diagnosis, treatment options, and strategies for living with this condition. By the end of this article, you’ll have a deeper understanding of Symmetry OCD and the tools to navigate its challenges.

Table of Contents

What is Symmetry OCD?

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, commonly referred to as OCD, is a condition characterized by intrusive thoughts and ritualistic behaviors. Specifically, Symmetry OCD, also known as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder with Symmetry Obsessions or Symmetry Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (SOCD), is a distinct subtype of this broader category. In this form of OCD, the spotlight is on individuals who are plagued with distressing and intrusive thoughts surrounding symmetry, order, and balance. For these individuals, the idea of things being out of order is unbearable. Consequently, such overpowering thoughts prompt them to indulge in repetitive behaviors or mental rituals. Indeed, these rituals serve as their way of coping, aiming to alleviate the overwhelming anxiety and discomfort they feel.

Symptoms of Symmetry OCD

Like all disorders, Symmetry OCD presents itself through a set of identifiable symptoms. At the heart of these symptoms lies an intense, almost obsessive need for symmetry and order. To delve deeper into these symptoms:

  1. Obsessive Thoughts: Individuals find themselves trapped in a cycle of persistent thoughts. The themes of these thoughts often revolve around unevenness, imperfection, or a perceived lack of symmetry in their environment, making them feel constantly on edge.
  2. Compulsive Behaviors: Driven by the urge to alleviate their distress, individuals might go to great lengths, engaging in compulsive actions. This could range from meticulously arranging objects to ensure perfect alignment, repeatedly checking objects for evenness, or indulging in specific counting patterns.
  3. Time-Consuming Rituals: It’s not just the rituals but the sheer amount of time these rituals can occupy. For some, these behaviors become so entrenched that they consume a significant chunk of their daily life, often hindering routine activities and responsibilities.
  4. Distress and Anxiety: When the quest for perfection falls short, as it often does, individuals can experience profound distress and heightened anxiety. The notion of imperfection becomes a constant source of turmoil.

Causes of Symmetry OCD

Unraveling the exact cause of Symmetry OCD can be complex. Although a definitive cause remains elusive, researchers and experts have identified a confluence of factors that might contribute to its onset:

  1. Genetics: Family ties can play a significant role. A genetic predisposition, as observed in individuals with a family lineage of OCD, can make one more prone to this disorder.
  2. Brain Chemistry: The intricate workings of our brain, specifically imbalances in neurotransmitters like serotonin, have been linked to the manifestation of OCD symptoms. An imbalance can potentially skew our brain’s usual patterns, leading to obsessive behaviors.
  3. Environmental Factors: Sometimes, the environment plays the villain. Traumatic incidents or prolonged exposure to high-stress environments can act as catalysts, triggering the onset of Symmetry OCD in those already susceptible.

Diagnosis and Assessment

Given the impact Symmetry OCD can have on one’s life, obtaining an accurate diagnosis is paramount. Typically, this involves a comprehensive assessment by a seasoned mental health professional. During this assessment, there’s an in-depth discussion about the individual’s symptoms, their repercussions on daily functioning, and a meticulous review of both medical and psychiatric history. Such a rigorous evaluation is instrumental in distinguishing Symmetry OCD from other potential conditions and charting out the most effective treatment roadmap.

Treatment Options

Fighting Symmetry OCD demands a multi-pronged approach, with various treatment modalities available, each designed to address unique facets of the disorder:


Pharmaceutical intervention, especially with drugs like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), can be a powerful ally against Symmetry OCD. By regulating the brain’s chemistry, these medications can significantly diminish anxiety levels and curtail obsessive thoughts, granting individuals a renewed sense of control over their lives.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT stands as a pillar in the treatment landscape of OCD. One notable technique under its umbrella is exposure and response prevention (ERP). ERP is transformative, as it hinges on the principle of exposing individuals to scenarios that activate their obsessive triggers while simultaneously refraining them from succumbing to their compulsive urges. This consistent exposure, over time, makes them more resilient to their underlying fears.

Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP)

As a specialized therapy, ERP follows a methodical approach to combat Symmetry OCD. Through incremental exposure to fear-inducing stimuli and a concerted effort to resist associated compulsions, individuals, with the aid of a therapist, embark on a journey to regulate their anxiety. Over time, this therapy aims to dismantle the vicious cycle of obsessions and compulsions, bestowing individuals with a greater sense of freedom.

Living with Symmetry OCD

Everyday life with Symmetry OCD can be a tightrope walk, fraught with challenges. Yet, with the right tools and strategies, it’s possible to navigate this journey with confidence:

Coping Strategies

Living with Symmetry OCD, while demanding, doesn’t have to be an insurmountable challenge. Several coping strategies can serve as a beacon of hope, making a tangible difference in daily life:

  1. Mindfulness: Embracing mindfulness can be transformative. By anchoring themselves in the present moment, individuals can diminish the stronghold of obsessive thoughts and find solace in the now.
  2. Support Groups: There’s strength in numbers. Joining support groups or seeking therapeutic interventions can offer a reservoir of emotional support. Sharing experiences and gleaning practical advice from peers can be immensely cathartic.

Support Systems

The journey with Symmetry OCD is not one to be walked alone. A robust support system, comprising understanding friends and compassionate family members, can be a lifeline. These pillars of support can provide the much-needed understanding, encouragement, and hands-on help, making the path ahead a little less daunting.


In conclusion, Symmetry OCD is a challenging subtype of obsessive-compulsive disorder characterized by a profound need for symmetry and order. Individuals affected by Symmetry OCD often experience intrusive thoughts and engage in repetitive behaviors to alleviate their anxiety. Fortunately, effective treatment options, such as medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy, can help manage the symptoms and improve the quality of life for those living with this condition. Additionally, building a strong support system and practicing coping strategies, such as mindfulness, are essential steps toward managing Symmetry OCD successfully. Remember that seeking professional help is crucial, and with the right guidance and resources, individuals can lead fulfilling lives despite the challenges posed by this disorder.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is Symmetry OCD a common subtype of OCD?

Yes, Symmetry OCD is one of the less common subtypes of OCD, but it can significantly impact the lives of those who experience it. It’s essential to recognize the signs and seek appropriate help if you or someone you know is affected.

Can Symmetry OCD coexist with other types of OCD?

Yes, it’s possible for individuals to experience multiple subtypes of OCD simultaneously. In some cases, Symmetry OCD may coexist with other forms, such as contamination or hoarding OCD.

What should I do if I suspect I have Symmetry OCD?

If you suspect you have Symmetry OCD or know someone who does, it’s crucial to seek professional help. A mental health provider can assess the symptoms, provide an accurate diagnosis, and recommend suitable treatment options.

Are there any self-help strategies for Symmetry OCD?

While self-help strategies can complement professional treatment, it’s essential to consult with a therapist for a tailored approach. Self-help techniques may include maintaining a journal, practicing relaxation exercises, and gradually exposing yourself to triggering situations.

What’s Next

Now that you have a comprehensive understanding of Symmetry OCD, it’s important to explore further resources and support. If you or someone you know is struggling with Symmetry OCD or any other form of OCD, consider reading Mindphony’s blog on “Just Right OCD”. This blog provides additional insights into OCD subtypes and coping mechanisms.

For a broader perspective on anxiety disorders, including OCD, read “What Are the 6 Types of Anxiety Disorders?”. Understanding the various anxiety disorders can help you better navigate the complexities of mental health.

Additionally, if you’re interested in exploring treatment options for anxiety disorders, including Symmetry OCD, visit “Anxiety Disorder Treatment” for valuable insights into therapeutic approaches and their effectiveness.

In conclusion, remember that seeking help and support is the first step toward managing Symmetry OCD effectively. You don’t have to face it alone, and there are resources available to guide you on your journey to recovery and well-being.

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