Understanding OCPD vs OCD

This article will discuss OCPD vs OCD and the characteristics of these disorders. OCPD is a personality disorder that is very disrupting to the individual’s life. Likewise, OCD is disruptive, however, it is an anxiety disorder and is often easier to recognize and treat.

Let’s look at what defines an anxiety and personality disorder…

Anxiety Disorder

An anxiety disorder is characterized as intense episodes of worry, fear and or anxiety that frequently inhibit someone’s ability to do something.

This could be a certain trigger that causes a panic attack or any other instance where the individual’s life is affected by the intense anxiety.

It can come in many different forms such as anxiety or social disorders. An example of this could be if someone experiences intense stress or anxiety when they’re in public and/or large groups of people.

The anxiety they experience is not equally aligned with the situation. It’s important to know that people with an anxiety disorder are not just over reacting.

While the situation is not as dangerous or threatening  as they’re interpreting it, what is happening to them on the inside is very intense.

ocpd vs ocd

The fear/anxiety they are feeling is debilitating and very real in that regard. The cause can be a preexisting condition such as a chemical imbalance.

Many people who suffer with an anxiety disorder developed it from childhood. Certain experiences, genetic factors and repetitive situations can cause one to develop an anxiety disorder if not properly addressed. Most of the time, those with anxiety disorders are aware of them.

They are able to recognize that it is not healthy to be dealing with the things that they have to. Some may actively seek treatment, however, many do not.

It’s unclear why some people prefer to avoid treatment, but factors such as shame or even anxiety itself may be the cause.

In relation to OCPD vs OCD, both disorders could posses characteristics of anxiety.

Personality Disorder

Your personality is determined by how you think, feel and act. When you have a personality disorder, you will have certain patterns of thinking, feeling and behavior that will be unhealthy or seem eccentric.

While we’re all different, being a little “weird” is perfectly normal, someone with a personality disorder will suffer with personality traits that affect their quality of life and ability to function in a healthy way at times.

The truth is that people with narcissism, paranoid or antisocial personality disorders (to name a few) don’t have the same emotional capacities as someone without a disorder.

ocpd vs ocd

Depending on how severe and/or smart the individual with the disorder is, you won’t be aware of how unhealthy and potentially dangerous your relationship with them could be.

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What OCPD Looks like at a Glance

As mentioned in one of the other recent articles, What is Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder, OCPD is a personality disorder, not an anxiety disorder.

It’s important to understand what makes this personality disorder different in order to distinguish the two. In so many words, when someone has OCPD, they will seem like they’re uptight about their preferences.

They will be extremely particular on how things are done and will appear to be a perfectionist. This sounds relatively harmless, however, the extreme levels of how particular they are seriously affect multiple areas of their lives. 

The difference between OCPD and just being “particular” about things is that someone with OCPD will feel an intense need to have things done their way.

Since they’re living with a personality disorder, they will not know that there is anything wrong with their behavior.

This can be frustrating for those around them. The person struggling with OCPD seems convinced that their way of doing things is the best.

They will be very insistent that others do things the way they do and it can lead to problems in the relationship. Someone with OCPD might be inefficient due to their need for perfection.

They also tend to spend too much time working and could neglect relationships because of this.

Also, people with personality disorders (especially OCPD) are usually in denial or refuse to acknowledge that they have a disorder.

ocpd vs ocd

Treatment is possible, however, it’s much more difficult for someone with a personality disorder to accept that and seek help.

People suffering with OCPD will most likely have a very strict moral/ethical code that they follow. Additionally, they might have hoarding behaviors as well. These are just a few (key) symptoms of OCPD.

Someone who has this disorder may possess few, many or all of these traits. Likewise, they can be on different scales as well. It’s important to know that OCPD is not a “one size fits all” disorder.

You can see how someone living with OCPD might have a hard time in social situations or establishing meaningful relationships.

Since it is a personality disorder, this cause is not uncommon. We all carry many personality traits from our parents and unfortunately personality disorders are typically part of that.

Our brains decide how they want to operate by a young age – usually under age 10.

If a parent is extremely strict and/or a perfectionist and in turn puts all of that pressure on the child, it is very understandable that a personality disorder could develop as the child becomes an adult.

Sometimes the individual is able to address their personality issues and work through their limitations. In this case they can avoid personality disorders and other mental health issues.

If you’re not particularly aware of the strain that was put on you, or if you have genetic tendencies, developing OCPD will be a gradual process.

ocpd vs ocd

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People diagnosed with OCPD do not think anything is wrong with them. In fact, they think that others are often wrong. This stems from the urgent need they felt to be in “good standing” with their overbearing parent(s).

This could have been because they were always getting in trouble for the smallest things. They were taught to do things a very specific way and there would be consequences if they did not.

This could also be true if they wanted attention and love from their parents and only received it when they were on their best behavior. They may have only felt loved if they were doing everything they could to please them.

What OCD Looks like at a Glance

To understand it at a glance, know that OCD is an anxiety disorder that causes an individual to behave in a variety of unusual ways.

Obsessions and Compulsions are what make OCD what it is. When a cycle of obsessions and compulsions becomes so intrusive that it affects the individual’s life on a regular basis, OCD is usually diagnosed.

When discussing the various types of OCD, it’s important to keep in mind that the individual suffering does not not want to be experiencing the obsessive thoughts that they are.

Being understanding and helping them the best way possible will go much further than blaming them or being impatient.

Obsessions are referring to the intrusive thoughts that obsessively take over a person’s thoughts. Compulsions are the reaction to obsessions whether one reacts physically or mentally.

For example, if I have OCD and an obsession about how dirty something could be pops in my head it’ll cause me to react a certain way.

ocpd vs ocd

Perhaps I’d wash my hands a certain number of times per day. I may also feel the need to clean certain things in my house daily or multiple times per day.

Similar to anxiety or OCPD, OCD can be inherited from our parents as well.

External factors such as environment and a series of situations can also cause OCD. The third most common cause is a chemical imbalance in one’s brain.

It’s important to note that someone may have a combination of all three of these causes as well. Sometimes external factors will lead to chemical imbalances and they play off of one another.

Likewise, in the article What is OCD, we took a deeper dive into the traits of OCD including 7 various subtypes that someone could have.

Check that article out if you’d like to get more familiar with the specific types that are typically seen in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder including symptoms and causes.


As we’ve established, OCPD is a personality disorder whereas OCD is an anxiety disorder. Someone with OCPD will be living through their disorder by behaving in various particular ways.

Since this is a personality disorder, it is who they currently are. I will affect every area of their daily life.

Someone with OCD will be experiencing unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and actions (compulsions) while dealing with their disorder.

It’s still very intrusive to their daily life, however, it is not intertwined with who they are as a person. Usually, someone with OCD will feel separated from their disorder traits. They will know that it is not part of them as it is unwanted.

As mentioned, someone with OCPD will not know that there is anything wrong with them. In fact, they will think that other people are in the wrong because their traits are such a real part of who they are. They cannot see how it is a disorder.

Someone with OCD is usually aware that their disorder’s symptoms are not “normal” but will accommodate them as they have no choice but to cope the only way they know how.

Typically, treatments for personality and anxiety disorders are similar. The same methods will be used (various therapy types) but the approach will be tailored to the disorder type and the individual.

The use of medication as treatment is more common with anxiety disorders such as OCD. It’s not usually used as part of treatment for a personality disorder unless it is needed to target symptoms of the disorder such as depression.

There are several successful treatments that help improve the quality of life for those diagnosed with COPD and OCD.

Let’s look at a few of the top treatments used…

1. Psychodynamic psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is one of the top treatments with any personality disorder, not just OCPD.

Psychotherapy is known as “talk therapy” and the oldest form at that. This is used for a variety of disorders and emotional support. Psychotherapy is great for working through the daily struggles that individuals with OCPD face.

personality disorder

Working with a professional therapist in psychotherapy will help control the disorder’s symptoms and give the patient a better quality of life.

Depending on the severity of the individual’s disorder, psychotherapy can be a short process or can last for years.

According to research and this article the majority of people in psychotherapy typically see helpful results. The professional skills and knowledge a therapist has can help rewrite destructive patterns of behavior.

This will lead to better outcomes in every area of the patient’s life such as relationships, their job, and even their relationship with themselves.

2. Cognitive-behavioral therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is also a form of psychotherapy (“talk therapy”), although its focus is slightly different. CBT specifically targets eliminating negative thought patterns.

This focus may be an appropriate treatment if someone has self-esteem issues that affect a variety of areas in their life. If you think about it, what we think about ourselves shapes who we become.

If you have negative subconscious thoughts/beliefs about yourself and see them as facts, you’ll base important areas in your life around that. By working with someone to eliminate negative thoughts/beliefs, you open a door to endless possibilities for yourself.

There are also a variety of other personality disorders that benefit from CBT. You can see how starting with yourself and then working to external factors is essential for laying the groundwork for success.

3. Medication

As previously mentioned, medication may be an option of treatment for someone suffering with OCD. An antidepressant may also be an option for someone with OCPD struggling with depression.

Psychiatric prescriptions have been known to help control both the obsessions and the compulsions that someone struggling with OCD is experiencing.

There are several antidepressants that are approved for treatment. If you think an antidepressant is something you could benefit from, talk to your doctor about which one could help you!

Doing your own research about the best option for you can help as well.

In conclusion, when we take a closer look at OCPD vs. OCD, it’s easy to understand what makes them so different.

Being able to understand and recognize various disorders is a great way to be able to connect with others.

Also, being familiar with personality disorders in particular makes it easier to interact with a variety of people.

When we are aware and can understand what someone might be going through, it’s helpful for our own interaction with them as well. We are able to avoid potentially dangerous people or help those that may need it the most.

If someone you know is struggling with a personality or anxiety disorder, you can help by offering to talk about their struggles and concerns.

Giving them a safe space to talk to someone can go a long way with easing their pain and struggles.

Additionally, you can encourage them to seek confidential help from a therapist if they are not willing to talk about their disorder with family/friend

Seeking treatment is key for eliminating any potential future complications or disorders from forming. 

Not ready to go just yet? Check out more from the blog…

Resources and Helpful Articles

mayoclinic.com- Info on Anxiety

mayoclinic.com – Info on OCD


Hi, I'm Marissa! I'm passionate about mental and emotional health and want to share what I've learned over the years with others! I've seen first hand how mental health struggles can cause serious issues within relationships, work life, daily productivity, self-worth and more! I truly believe that we owe it to ourselves to bring more awareness to these life changing topics. Start your mental/emotional health journey by learning more today!

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