“A place for everything and everything in its place” is an old literary quote that may ring true if you’re living with symptoms of OCPD. What are other symptoms of the condition?
Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is more than just making plans, lists, and constantly organizing. For you, it may be more about a persistent urge to maintain control, and feeling unable to do something unless every detail falls into what you consider the right place.
OCPD is often confused with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). However, these are two different mental health conditions.
If you’re unsure if you have OCPD, understanding the condition can give you a starting point before seeking a diagnosis. And if you’re living with OCPD, learning more about your condition and how it’s treated can make a difference in managing your day-to-day life.
Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is one of 10 personality disorders, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5).
A persistent and intense behavioral pattern that involves a need to maintain order, perfection, and mental and interpersonal control characterizes this personality disorder. This often leads to focusing intensely on specific details. In turn, this focus causes you significant distress.
Decision-making may be painful to you, particularly when there are no established rules to guide you. It may also be difficult to prioritize tasks or choose a specific method to complete one. You may spend a lot of time checking or developing rules, procedures, schedules, and similar control methods.
With OCPD, you could also feel highly frustrated and upset if you’re in a situation where you don’t have control. For example, you may get angry if a customer service representative doesn’t solve a situation the way you wanted. Instead of filing a complaint with management, you may persistently think of ways to leave a poor business review.
There’s not just one cause for OCPD or other personality disorders.
It’s believed that a combination of physiological and environmental factors may play a role in someone developing the condition.
These factors may include:
- childhood trauma
- abuse during childhood
- modeling behaviors from someone close to you
Older research has suggested that maternal verbal abuse, for example, leads to an increased chance of developing personality disorders, including OCPD.
In sum, OCPD is a complex mental health condition, probably caused by a complex mixture of environmental, lifestyle, and physiological influences.
Only a trained mental health professional may be able to provide an accurate diagnosis of OCPD. For this, they’ll want to talk with you about your symptoms, concerns, routines, relationships, and persistent thoughts.
After gathering this information, they can compare it to diagnostic criteria.
Living with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder means different things for different people.
You may be hyperfocused on work versus family or romantic interactions, for example. Or perhaps you may realize you’re in a hoarding situation because disposing of objects is a challenge for you. You could also find yourself having a hard time spending money on what’s considered minor expenses.
According to the DSM-5, to reach a diagnosis, four or more of these symptoms must be present and evident across situations:
- a preoccupation with rules, details, organization, schedules, and tracking processes
- the urgency to reach perfection, which gets in the way of completing tasks
- prioritizing work and productivity over interpersonal relationships and relaxation
- extreme challenges accepting other beliefs, values, and ethics, and being intensely focused on following your own
- not being able to discard unused, worn-out, or older objects
- extreme difficulty delegating tasks or negotiating with others, unless they’re willing to adhere to your ways
- trying to save money and limiting expenses for yourself and others, even when unnecessary
- rigid thinking patterns and stubbornness
Not every symptom above means you have OCPD, and not everyone with OCPD will have all the symptoms.
Even if it feels challenging, it’s possible to manage your symptoms and cope. This is usually accomplished with the help of a mental health professional.
In general, OCPD is treated with psychotherapy, aka talk therapy.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and psychodynamic therapy are two types of psychotherapy usually recommended in both individual and group-based settings.
In some cases — particularly if you also have symptoms of anxiety — medication may be prescribed to help with specific symptoms.
But since everyone is different, you can discuss your options (and any concerns you might have) with a healthcare professional. This way, you can participate in planning your treatment.
If you’re persistently focused on details, rules, and achieving “perfection” — and it affects the way you see yourself, others, and the world — you may be living with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.
OCPD is manageable, though, and the support of a mental health professional is a good place to start. Consider these resources as a starting line:
- American Psychiatric Association’s Find a Psychiatrist tool
- American Psychological Association’s Find a Psychologist tool
- Asian Mental Health Collective’s therapist directory
- Association of Black Psychologists’ Find a Psychologist tool
- National Alliance on Mental Illness Helplines and Support Tools
National Institute of Mental Health’s Helpline Directory
- National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network
- Inclusive Therapists