What You Need to Know About OCD: The Truth About Harm OCD

harm ocd blog

Do you know what harm OCD is? This is a type of OCD that is characterized by intrusive thoughts about causing harm to others. People with harm OCD often experience a lot of guilt and anxiety because of their thoughts. In this blog post, we will discuss the truth about the harm OCD and provide information about how to get help if you are struggling with this type of OCD.

What Is Harm OCD? harm ocd definition

Harm OCD is a subtype of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in which individuals experience persistent and intrusive thoughts about harm happening to themselves or others.

Individuals with harm OCD are consumed with worry about the possibility of causing harm and often engage in compulsions or safety behaviors in an attempt to prevent harm from occurring. These compulsions can interfere significantly with daily life and cause significant distress.

What Are The Symptoms? 

Harm OCD can manifest in a variety of ways. Some common symptoms include:

  • intrusive thoughts or images about harm coming to oneself or others
  • persistent fear or anxiety about possible harm
  • avoidance of people, places, or activities that may trigger thoughts or images about harm
  • compulsive behaviors such as checking, reassurance seeking, and mental rituals aimed at preventing harm
  • excessive worry about making mistakes or doing something wrong
  • perfectionism
  • difficulty tolerating uncertainty
  • the need for control

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to seek professional help. Harm OCD can be extremely distressing and debilitating, but there are effective treatments available.

What Are The Risk Factors?

There are several risk elements associated with harm OCD. These include:

A history of anxiety or another mood disorderA history of anxiety or another mood disorder

People with a history of anxiety or another mood disorder are more likely to develop harmful OCD. There are several reasons why this may be the case. First, people with anxiety or another mood disorder may be more likely to have intrusive thoughts about harm.

Second, people with anxiety or another mood disorder may be more likely to worry about the consequences of harm. Third, people with anxiety or another mood disorder may be more likely to engage in safety behaviors (such as checking and avoidance) that can maintain and worsen OCD symptoms.

Finally, people with anxiety or another mood disorder may be more likely to respond to their intrusive thoughts with distress, which can also maintain and worsen OCD symptoms

A family history of OCD or another mental health disorder

A family history of OCD or another mental health disorder is a risk factor for harm OCD. This means that if you have a parent or sibling with OCD, you may be more likely to develop harm OCD yourself.

Another example is if someone in your family has anxiety or depression, you may be more likely to develop harm OCD. While having a family member with OCD does not mean that you will develop harm OCD, it is important to be aware of the risk factors.

Trauma or abuse

Studies have shown that people who have experienced trauma or abuse are more likely to develop harm OCD than those who have not. Trauma or abuse can cause harm OCD in several ways.

First, it can lead to feelings of guilt and shame. These feelings can be so intense that they trigger obsessive thoughts about harming oneself or others. Second, trauma or abuse can also lead to changes in brain chemistry that make someone more vulnerable to developing OCD. Finally, trauma or abuse can also create a sense of isolation and loneliness, which can make it difficult for someone to seek help for their OCD

Certain personality traits

Certain personality traits can increase the risk of developing harm OCD. Perfectionism and a need for control are two examples of this.

Perfectionism can bring extremely high standards for themselves and others. They may be prone to critical self-judgment and have difficulty relaxing or taking breaks. This can also lead to compulsions such as checking and reassurance-seeking behaviors as well as avoidance of certain situations or activities.

Besides, the need for control can make individuals feel the need to be in control of everything in their environment. This can manifest as compulsions such as ordering, tapping, and cleaning. It can also lead to avoidance of anything that might trigger feelings of loss of control such as dirt, germs, and crowds.

Stressful life events

Stressful life events are a major risk factor for harm OCD. This is because, during times of stress, our bodies produce more of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol is a natural hormone that helps us to cope with stress, but when we have too much of it, it can make us feel more anxious and stressed out. This can trigger harmful OCD thoughts and behaviors.

Some examples of stressful life events that can trigger harm OCD include: starting a new job, getting married, having a baby, moving to a new house or city, or experiencing any type of trauma (such as an assault).

Exposure to someone else with OCD

When harm OCD sufferers are exposed to others with OCD, it can trigger their fears and doubts about their safety and wellbeing. For example, if they see someone compulsively washing their hands or avoiding contact with objects, they may start to worry that they too are contaminated and could harm themselves or others.

Similarly, if they hear someone talking about their intrusive thoughts or obsessions, it can remind them of their dark thoughts and increase their anxiety. In short, exposure to others with OCD can be a risk factor for harm OCD because it can trigger the sufferer’s fears and doubts.

Use of certain drugs

The use of drugs like cocaine or amphetamines is a risk factor for harm OCD because they can increase the levels of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is associated with pleasure and reward, and it can also affect how we process fear and anxiety.

When someone uses drugs like cocaine or amphetamines, they are essentially flooding their brain with dopamine, which can lead to an increased sense of fear and anxiety. This can trigger harmful OCD symptoms, such as obsessive thoughts about harming oneself or others.

Having other mental health disorders

If you have another mental health disorder, such as depression or an eating disorder, you may be at greater risk for harm OCD. This is because these disorders can increase your anxiety and make you more likely to worry about harm coming to yourself or others.

For example, someone with anorexia may develop harm OCD because they are constantly worried about becoming overweight or obese. Someone with depression may develop harm OCD because they are worried about harming themselves or others.

If you have any of these risk factors, it’s important to be aware of the potential for developing harm OCD. Left untreated, harm OCD can lead to significant distress and disruption in your life.

What Are The Consequences?

Harm OCD can have several consequences, both mental and physical. These can include:

Increased fear

increased fearHarm OCD can increase fear in several ways. For example, someone with harm OCD may become afraid of using knives because they are afraid they will hurt themselves or someone else.

Another way harm OCD can increase fear is by causing people to doubt themselves and their abilities. For example, someone with harm OCD may start to doubt whether they are capable of driving safely after having a few close calls. This can lead to them avoiding driving altogether.

Harm OCD can also cause people to become afraid of other people. For example, someone with harm OCD may become afraid of their partner after they argue because they are afraid they will hurt them. In general, harm OCD can make people more fearful of anyone who could potentially cause harm.

Avoidance of people or situations 

Harm OCD creates avoidance of people or situations that trigger thoughts about harm in a few different ways. One way is through mental avoidance, which is when someone with harm OCD tries to avoid thinking about their fears by distraction or suppression.

For example, if somebody with harm OCD is afraid of harming their child, they may try to avoid thinking about it by watching television or talking to friends. However, this only provides temporary relief and the fear usually comes back even stronger.

The other way harm OCD creates avoidance is through physical avoidance, which is when somebody with harm OCD avoids people or situations that remind them of their fears. For example, somebody with harm OCD who is afraid of harming their child may avoid being around children altogether. They may also avoid places where they think they might harm their children, such as the kitchen or the bathroom.

Compulsively checking on loved ones 

Harm OCD can result in compulsively checking on loved ones or scanning for potential dangers. This is because harm OCD sufferers are constantly worried about the safety of those around them. They may check on their loved ones multiple times a day, or scan their surroundings for any potential hazards.

This can be extremely stressful and time-consuming, as the sufferer is constantly on high alert. Constantly checking on their loved ones can also lead to feelings of guilt, as the sufferer may feel like they are not doing enough to protect them. Their beloved may also start to resent the constant checking and may withdraw from the relationship as a result.

Excessive reassurance seeking from others

People with harm OCD may seek reassurance from others that they would never do anything to harm someone else. For example, a person with harm OCD may ask their partner repeatedly if they are sure that the person would never hurt them. This can become very burdensome for the individual’s loved ones.

Their loved ones can’t focus on anything else and have to be there for 24*7 to take extra care of such people in their life. This creates problems for both helper and the seeker.

Difficulty concentrating or paying attention

Harm OCD can result in difficulty concentrating or paying attention for several reasons. For example, if someone with harm OCD is fixated on the idea that they may harm someone else, they may have trouble focusing on anything else.

Additionally, harm OCD can lead to intrusive thoughts and images that can be distracting and disruptive. In some cases, people with harm OCD may also avoid certain situations or activities out of fear that they will harm someone. This can further interfere with concentration and attention. Ultimately, harm OCD can have a significant impact on an individual’s ability to focus and concentrate.

Sleep problems

People with Harm OCD may have difficulty falling asleep because they are worried about harm coming to themselves or others.

They may also have nightmares or intrusive thoughts about harm happening. Finally, people with Harm OCD may have trouble staying asleep because they are worried that they will harm someone if they fall asleep. All of these factors can lead to sleep problems and make it difficult for people with Harm OCD to get the rest they need.


Harm OCD can result in depression for several reasons. First, the constant worry and fear associated with harm OCD can be extremely debilitating. People with harm OCD may avoid certain activities or places out of fear that they will harm someone. This can lead to social isolation and loneliness.

Additionally, the compulsions associated with harm OCD can be time-consuming and frustrating. For example, a person with harm OCD may spend hours each day checking to make sure they haven’t harmed anyone. This can interfere with work, school, and other important aspects of life.

Finally, people with harm OCD may feel ashamed and embarrassed about their symptoms. They may worry that others will think they are crazy or dangerous if they find out about their thoughts and behaviors. All of these factors can contribute to depression.

Irritability or moodiness

Harm OCD can result in irritability or moodiness for several reasons. First, the constant worry and anxiety that comes with the condition can be extremely draining.

Secondly, people with harm OCD often feel like they are not in control of their lives and this can lead to frustration and anger. Finally, harm OCD can cause people to isolate themselves from others which can further contribute to feelings of loneliness and isolation.

All of these factors can lead to irritability or moodiness in individuals with harm OCD.

left untreated, harm OCD can lead to significant impairment in one’s ability to function in daily life. In severe cases, it can even lead to suicidal ideation.

How Can Therapies Help?

Many different types of therapy can help people with harm OCD, and the most effective approach will vary from person to person. However, some of the most common and effective therapies for harm OCD include:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral TherapyCBT is a type of therapy that focuses on helping people change their thoughts and behaviors to improve their overall mental health.

Cognitive behavioral therapy helps people with harm OCD to manage their thoughts and behaviors more constructively. With CBT, people with harm OCD learn to challenge their negative thoughts and beliefs about themselves and the world around them. They also learn healthy coping and problem-solving skills.

For example, someone with harm OCD may have the thought, “I’m a terrible person because I had the thought of harming my child.” CBT would help this person challenge that thought by looking at evidence that disproves it. This might include thinking about times when they’ve been kind and caring toward their child, or times when they’ve had similar thoughts but didn’t act on them.

CBT can be done with a therapist in individual sessions or in a group setting. If you think CBT might be helpful for you, talk to your doctor or mental health professional.

Exposure and Response Prevention

ERP involves gradually exposing oneself to the thoughts, images, or situations that trigger anxiety and practicing learning how to cope with the anxiety without engaging in compulsions. For example, someone with harm OCD who is afraid of harming themselves may be exposed to situations where they are alone with sharp objects. This exposure might be done in an imagined form first, and then in real-life situations.

While exposure may initially cause anxiety to increase, with practice the anxiety will decrease and eventually go away. Response prevention refers to learning how to resist compulsions. For example, someone with harm OCD who is afraid of harming themselves may be asked to not engage in safety behaviors such as avoidance or checking.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

ACT is a form of psychotherapy that can help people with harm OCD manage their symptoms. It focuses on accepting difficult thoughts and feelings instead of trying to fight them. It also involves committing to values-based actions, even in the face of anxiety or other challenges.

ACT can help people learn to accept their intrusive thoughts without trying to control or suppress them. This can be a difficult but important step in managing harm OCD. Once they have accepted their thoughts, they can then focus on committing to actions that are in line with their values. For example, someone with harm OCD who values spending time with family may commit to attending a family gathering even if they’re feeling anxious about it.

ACT works by helping people with harm OCD focus on the present moment and takes action based on their values. This can lead to a more fulfilling life, despite the challenges of harm OCD.

How Can Doing Self-Care Help?

ideas for self careIf you’re struggling with harm OCD, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. Many people have gone through similar experiences and have come out on the other side. Here are some self-care tips that can help you.

Seek help from your support system

It can be really helpful to talk to someone who understands what you’re going through. This could be a therapist, counselor, or somebody else who has harm OCD. Talking about your experiences can help you feel less alone and more understood.

Your friends and family can be a great source of support when you’re struggling with harm OCD. Let them know what you’re going through and ask for their help in challenging your negative thoughts and exposure therapy.

Challenge your negative thoughts

A big part of overcoming harm OCD is challenging the negative thoughts that fuel your anxiety. When you catch yourself thinking something like “I could hurt somebody if I’m not careful,” try to counter it with a more realistic thought, like “I have never hurt anybody and I’m not going to start now.”

Expose yourself to your fears

One of the best ways to overcome this mental ailment is to gradually expose yourself to the things that you’re afraid of. If you’re afraid of hurting somebody, for example, you might start by thinking about harming somebody, then looking at pictures of people being harmed, and eventually working up to touching someone gently.

Practice relaxation techniques

Relaxation techniques can be very helpful in managing harm OCD. Some examples include deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, and mindfulness meditation.

Spend time in a beautiful atmosphere

One of the most harm OCD self-care tips is to spend time in a beautiful, peaceful environment. This could be nature, an art gallery, or anywhere that makes you feel calm and serene.

Remember that there is hope. With the right treatment and support, you can overcome this disorder and live a happy, healthy life.


At the end of this article, it is concluded that harm OCD should not be taken lightly, as it can have a profound impact on an individual’s life. If you or someone you know may be suffering from such a mental disorder, please seek professional help. With proper treatment, harm OCD can be effectively managed and controlled.

After all, your life is worth living, and you deserve to live it in the way that you want to. harm OCD does not have to control you. You can control it.

Professional Guidance is the first step to moving toward your healing journey. You can try reaching Therapy Mantra to seek expert help in the comfort of your own home. Our therapists will help you get a solution to manage and overcome your problem. You can book your online therapy and talk directly to your assigned mentor. You may also download our free OCD treatment app on Android or iOS.