What is the difference between Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder and OCD?

Almost everyone has heard of OCD. Most even know that it stands for obsessive-compulsive disorder. There are jokes aplenty. We think we know what it is. People laughingly blame various things like being bothered by crookedly-hanging pictures on OCD, but true OCD is not just a desire for order.  

Fewer people have heard of the similarly named OCPD. 

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) typically involves obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors or routines to reduce the anxiety related to the obsessive thoughts. The extra word in the title Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) is the key to the differences between these two disorders with some similar features. 


Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder 

OCD can develop at any time, and has acute symptoms. People struggling with OCD can realize their obsessions may not be reasonable, and the obsessions and compulsions can feel unpleasant. The obsessive thoughts and the compulsive behaviors that go with them can cause distress. Although someone diagnosed with OCD may not be bothered by asking others to conform to what makes them feel comfortable in their space, they may also feel bad and apologetic about it. Obsessive thoughts can get increasingly difficult to overcome, and compulsive behaviors can steal greater and greater amounts of time. OCD obsessions and compulsions significantly impact daily life. 

Anxiety is the key feature of OCD. 

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder 

OCPD generally develops by early adulthood. It is not a matter of acute symptoms, but a deeply embedded personality style. Individuals who can be diagnosed with OCPD typically believe their standards are not just reasonable, but the only way to do things right; others would be better off following them. The rigidity and lists feel good. If an individual with OCPD develops a detailed list and then thoroughly reviews it, it is not a matter of alleviating anxiety, but to be efficient and thorough. Although the rigidity and sometimes unreasonable standards of OCPD can make healthy relationships more difficult, they can make people efficient in various areas they deem important. 

Rigidity, perfectionism, and a need for control are key features of OCPD.

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