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OCD And Compulsive Checking

Updated on February 17, 2015

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, also known as OCD, is a mental disorder in which the sufferer has obsessive thoughts and acts out compulsions based on those thoughts. One type of OCD is called compulsive checking. Do you feel the need to repeatedly check on things around the house? Here are a few examples of compulsive checking.


Some people must repeatedly check doors to make sure that they are locked when leaving their house or even while they are in the house. They may go to the door several times and keep checking it over and over again. This might create a lot of anxiety because even though they checked the door numerous times, they may still feel like the door is unlocked once they leave the house.


Repeated checking of the stove to make sure it is turned off is another example of compulsive checking. Checking the stove once may be normal just to make sure it is turned off. However, when a person checks the stove several times to make sure it is turned off, it is usually considered a part of OCD.


Some people may feel the need to check wires before leaving their home. They might go around unplugging every wire in the house. After unplugging the wires, then they may repeatedly go back to make sure that the wires are unplugged in each room.

Self Help Tips

If you have this type of OCD where you have to repeatedly check for reassurance, here are a few tips that may help to calm down your anxiety. I have had this type of OCD and I know others who have it as well, so I know how it can bring on a lot of anxiety and stress. Sometimes it does not just affect the sufferer, but it may also affect other people around them, especially those who live with them. A person who has to repeatedly check things before leaving the house might end up being late for appointments, work or other outings. It can be a big nuisance.

Write It Down

If you can, carry a small notepad with you that has a list of items written that you repeatedly check. For example, on a piece of paper in the notepad you would write stove, door and wires, if these are things that you compulsively check. After you check each of these items, then you would put a check mark or cross the item off your list. This way you know that you have already checked that item and it was okay.

Take Pictures

If you have a phone with a good camera, taking a picture of each of the objects that you repeatedly check might help you to know that everything is turned off or unplugged. If your fear is that you left the stove on before leaving the house, then you might want to snap a picture of the stove after you check it to show yourself that the stove is not on. You might want to take a picture of a wall outlet to show yourself that the wires have been unplugged. This might help prevent some anxiety or obsessive thoughts while you are away from home.

Distract Yourself

When you are experiencing obsessive thoughts that are suggesting you act out on a compulsion, try to count to ten and distract yourself. Pulling away from that thought, if only for a short amount of time, might help you to break away from the compulsion. So, if OCD is telling you to check the lock on the door eight times, then before you check the lock for the second time, count to twenty. Like I said, it may be normal to check to make sure the door is locked. It is not normal to check the door eight times, even though you already locked it. By distracting the thought, you might be able to stop the compulsion or at least slow down your response to it. Try not to give your thoughts so much power by acting them out.

Change Thought Pattern

While the self help tips above may be helpful in calming your anxiety, they may not get rid of the thoughts completely or the OCD itself. You are still doing something out of the ordinary. What you may want to do is learn to change your thought pattern so that you do not have to take pictures or write notes for reassurance. A person without OCD will usually just walk out of the house. They might check the door once just to make sure it is locked, but then they will go about their day.

Changing your thought pattern may be difficult but it can happen. Think about the reasons why you feel the need to repeatedly check these objects around the house. Are you afraid that someone will break into your home because you did not lock the door? Are you worried that you left the stove on and it will cause a fire? There are many different reasons as to why someone with OCD may feel compelled to keep checking for reassurance.

Realize that the things that you think might happen, most likely will not ever happen. There are plenty of people who do not repeatedly check items in their house and they may go about their day without even thinking of those items even once throughout the day. Also, if you are checking on things repeatedly, you are using up a lot of time that you could be doing something else. Try to change your focus and change how you react to the obsessive thoughts you are experiencing. Focus on getting yourself better so you can be free of the anxiety and worry of repeated checking.

OCD creates a lot of anxiety and worry for those who have it. If you feel these self help tips are not helpful, you may want to speak to a mental health therapist, such as a psychologist to see if they can offer you more advice on how to control the symptoms of OCD. It may be hard to break free from the thoughts and compulsions at first, but if you take gradual steps, you might find it easier to do. You might frequently have obsessive thoughts, but if you do not act out on all of the compulsions, then you may find that those kind of thoughts will eventually dwindle down.


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