OCD Vs. OCPD: What's the Main Difference Between Their Symptoms, Causes, Treatments

Jun 24, 20246 min
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Snigdha Samantray
Digital Mental Health Specialist | Clinical Psychologist
Fear vs. Perfection - Know Deep Dive Differences of OCD and OCPD

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) are two terms that are often confused due to their similar names and certain overlapping characteristics. 

However clinically, they are as different as day and night. For a simpler understanding let’s imagine OCD symbolised by the word ‘Fear’ and OCPD on the other hand symbolised by the word ‘Perfection’. 

Understanding these mental health conditions appropriately is crucial as awareness and accurate information can lead to better symptom management and support for those affected. 

Now let’s delve deeper into the OCD vs. OCPD paradigm. First, we will have an overview of the two disorders and then understand their differences.

OCD VS OCPD Overview

What is OCD?

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental health disorder characterized by the presence of obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are intrusive, unwanted thoughts, images, or urges that cause significant anxiety or distress. Compulsions are repetitive behaviours or mental acts performed in an attempt to reduce the anxiety caused by the obsessions or to prevent a feared event or situation.

These behaviours and thoughts can consume significant time and interfere with daily functioning, leading to distress and impairment in various areas of life.

What is OCPD?

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) is a personality disorder characterized by a chronic preoccupation with rules, orderliness, and control at the expense of efficiency, openness and flexibility.

Unlike OCD, individuals with OCPD believe their actions and thoughts are rational and appropriate, despite the distress they may cause to themselves and others in social and occupational settings.

OCD VS. OCPD Symptoms

Symptoms of OCD

Typically, it has two classic symptoms as described below:

  1. Obsessions: This includes thoughts that are recurrent and repetitive. These thoughts can have various themes as mentioned below:
    • Fear of contamination by germs or dirt.
    • Intrusive thoughts about harming oneself or others.
    • Intense focus on symmetry, order, or exactness.
    • Unwanted sexual or aggressive thoughts.
  2. Compulsions: Actions/ behaviours that are repetitive and performed in reaction to the anxiety that obsessions create. These behaviours can have various themes as mentioned below:
    • Excessive hand washing or cleaning.
    • Repeated checking (e.g., locks, appliances).
    • Counting/Chanting rituals.
    • Arranging items in a specific, orderly manner.

Symptoms of OCPD

The symptoms of OCPD typically include the following:

  1. Perfectionism: Striving for flawlessness and setting high, often unattainable, standards.
  2. Preoccupation with orderliness: A need for control over their environment and rigid adherence to rules and schedules.
  3. Excessive devotion to work: Prioritizing work and productivity over leisure and relationships.
  4. Inflexibility: Reluctance to delegate tasks or work with others unless they submit to their exact way of doing things.
  5. Over-conscientiousness: Scrupulousness and inflexibility about matters of morality, ethics, or values.
  6. Miserliness: Often seen in spending style toward both self and others; money is viewed as something to be hoarded for future catastrophes.
  7. Hoarding: An inability to discard worn-out or worthless items, even when they have no sentimental value.
  8. Stubbornness: A rigid and stubborn approach to beliefs and routines.
  9. Low on Empathy: There is difficulty understanding and appreciating the ideas, feelings, or behaviours of others.


While there is no single test to diagnose OCD or OCPD, mental health professionals use a combination of assessments, interviews, and questionnaires to evaluate symptoms and determine the appropriate diagnosis. Some common tools used are discussed below:

Test for OCD

Used to assess the severity of OCD symptoms.

  1. Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS)
  2. The Obsessive–Compulsive Inventory-Revised (OCI-R) 
  3. The Florida Obsessive–Compulsive Inventory (FOCI)
  4. The Dimensional Obsessive–Compulsive Scale (DOCS)  

Test for OCPD

The following tests are used to screen for personality disorders, including OCPD.

  1. Personality Diagnostic Questionnaire-4 (PDQ-4)
  2. Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI-3)
  3. Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory (MCMI-IV)
  4. Personality Inventory for DSM-5 (PID-5) 

OCD VS. OCPD Treatment

Treatment approaches for OCD and OCPD differ based on the nature of each disorder.

Treatment For OCD

  1. Psychotherapy for OCD: Psychotherapy typically includes behaviour techniques like Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) and Systematic Desensitisation (SD) which involves gradually exposing individuals to their fears and helping them refrain from performing compulsions. Relaxation techniques are also used to reduce anxiety.
  2. Medication for OCD: Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are commonly prescribed to help reduce the symptoms of OCD and associated symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Treatment for OCPD

  1. Psychotherapy for OCD: Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is proven to be effective for treating OCPD which focuses on altering rigid thinking patterns and behaviours. Psychodynamic Therapy is also used especially for identifying the psychological roots of emotional suffering.
  2. Medication for OCD: While medication is less commonly used for OCPD, SSRIs may be prescribed to manage co-occurring anxiety or depression symptoms.

OCD VS. OCPD Example

To objectively understand the difference between OCD and OCPD, consider reading the following examples:

Example for OCD: 

Jessica is a 21-year-old graduate who feels a persistent fear that her hands are contaminated with germs. To alleviate her anxiety, she washes her hands repeatedly, even though she knows her fear is irrational. Her obsessions (fear of contamination) lead to compulsions (hand washing rituals) which consume several hours each day, significantly interfering with her daily life and causing significant distress.

Example for OCPD: 

Ranveer is a 37-year-old company manager who believes that everything in his office must be perfectly organized. He spends excessive time arranging his desk and files, believes his methods are the best, and becomes frustrated when colleagues do not meet his exacting standards. He arduously makes rigid rules and order of how professional assignments are supposed to be executed. His rigidity leads to conflicts with coworkers as they find him to be micromanaging and thus impacts his work relationships. Despite this, he sees his behaviour as necessary and justified.

Do Read our article on Strengthen Your Relationship with OCPD

OCD AND OCPD Similarities

Despite their differences, both OCD and OCPD share some similarities, which can lead to confusion, as discussed below:

  1. Preoccupation with Order: Both conditions involve a significant focus on orderliness and control.
  2. Repetitive Behaviours: Individuals with both OCD and OCPD may engage in repetitive behaviours, though the motivations behind these behaviours differ.
  3. Perfectionism: Perfectionistic tendencies can be present in both disorders, though they are more central to OCPD.
  4. Risk Avoidance: Individuals with both OCD and OCPD tend to avoid risk and uncertainties. 
  5. Routine and familiarity: Individuals with both OCD and OCPD prefer routine and familiarity and are aversive to sudden changes.
  6. Causes: The causes of OCD and OCPD are not fully understood and many times can have the same root i.e. a combination of genetic, biological, and environmental factors may contribute to their development. On rare occasions, it is also possible for an individual to have OCD and OCPD at the same time.

OCD VS OCPD: 10 Main Differences at a Glance 

Now that we have had an overview of the primary distinction between OCD and OCPD, the table below depicts the main difference between the symptoms, treatment and various other differentiating factors with clarity:

Sl. No.

Main Difference




Type of illness

It’s a type of Mental Health Disorder

It’s a type of Personality Disorder 


Driving factor

The driving factor is avoiding anxiety

The driving factor is perfection


Awareness & Insight 

They are typically aware that their obsessions and compulsions are irrational or excessive.

They believe their behaviours and thoughts are appropriate and rational.



It is characterized by the presence of obsessions and compulsions.

characterized by a chronic preoccupation with rules, orderliness, and control.



Assessment for Psychopathology 

Personality assessments 



Mostly behaviour modification techniques like Exposure and Response Prevention & Systematic Desensitisation 

Mostly therapeutic interventions like CBT & Psychodynamic therapy



They generally respond well to medications and it is a common means of treating OCD.

There are no medications for personality disorders including OCPD, unless it is associated with signs of depression and anxiety.


Means of safety

They establish safety through Compulsions 

They establish safety through Control 


Impact on relationships

OCD can cause significant distress and interference in personal and professional life due to the time-consuming nature of the compulsions. 

OCPD often leads to strained relationships due to the inflexible, controlling, and perfectionistic tendencies of the individual.


Ego functions

Ego-dystonic: behaviours and thoughts are perceived to not be a part of self, perceived to be irrational, which further causes anxiety & distress.

Ego-syntonic: behaviour is in harmony with one’s self-perception and values as they believe their behaviours are appropriate and rational.

Here is an article we covered related to questions a psychiatrist might ask during your first visit along with essential questions you should ask your psychiatrist.


Understanding the differences between OCD and OCPD is essential for accurate diagnosis and effective treatment. 

While both disorders involve a preoccupation with order and control, the underlying motivations, perceptions, and impacts on daily life differ significantly.  

Recognizing these distinctions can lead to better support and management for individuals affected by these conditions, improving their quality of life and relationships. 

By insight, awareness and the right treatment individuals can take proactive steps towards recovery, lead fulfilling lives and maintain a healthy balance between order and spontaneity. 

Whether you or someone you know is affected by OCD or OCPD, reaching out to mental health professionals for guidance and support is a crucial step towards recovery and well-being. 

At Mave Health, we embark on a journey to deepen our understanding of mental health through a comprehensive approach. Our dedication lies in empowering individuals by creating a space where they find meaningful solutions to their existing mental health concerns, offering a transformative experience in mental health care. 

If you're seeking solutions, Mave Health backed by a team of specialized experts, has been enhancing lives for over the past few years. Utilizing evidence-based, holistic, personalised, gold-standard treatment methods, we help individuals manage psychiatric disorders effectively. Reach out to us today to book a consultancy. Let’s aim for a mentally healthy world!


Exploring OCD vs OCPD and Distinguishing Features

OCPD vs. OCD: What's the Difference?

Author's Profile picture
Snigdha Samantray
Digital Mental Health Specialist | Clinical Psychologist
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