See Alike in...

Alike App




How do you tell the difference between anxiety and OCD with mental compulsions? I have always had consistent anxious, ruminating thoughts, and I have long reached for a certain person mentally as a way of calming those anxieties. That person is no longer a comfort, but my brain continues to go to them as an attempt to quiet the ruminating thoughts and spinning feeling in my chest and head. I am autistic and also have stimming behavior and general movement as a normal part of my life that my abusive mother used to yell at me would cause ocd, so it's been a common worry for much of my life even though I've never been diagnosed with it. I've been wondering, lately, if my compulsions might be mental rather than physical and that that might be why my anxiety and depression have been treatment resistant. Can anyone differentiate these for me?

    • LunarMoth


      I have OCD, as well as anxiety and depression, so I will try my best to describe what I feel the difference is for me. For me, I have been diagnosed with anxiety and depression since I was 14/15 or so. But I was diagnosed with OCD more recently, because I suffer from a skin picking disorder (which is OCD related) and kept having episodes where I would end up "stuck" on certain thoughts or compulsions. I would pick at my skin for hours because I was freaking out about having skin parasites--even though there really was no logical reason to believe I had skin parasites. But the possibility that I COULD, even if I had no evidence, was enough to send me spiraling. This was definitely more OCD than general anxiety, and I think the difference is that while my general anxiety can still lead to getting "stuck" in thought spirals, it's not tied to specific compulsions to quell my anxiety. And in general, my anxiety is more fleeting whereas my OCD really feels like getting stuck in my thoughts or in an action I feel I have to do, and in general my OCD feels a lot more irrational. My depression/anxiety has also been treatment resistant, but I feel this is more related to having developmental trauma. Given your mention of having an abusive mother, I wonder if its possible you might have some degree of developmental trauma (or C-PTSD)? Developmental trauma makes it less likely that antidepressant medications will be effective, for instance. If you're interested in learning more about developmental trauma I recommend The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk, which is a great book that discusses how developmental trauma effects individuals and complicates treatment. (but it IS treatable, just generally requires therapy and some other approaches)

    • Bean69


      Following Cuz I’m In The Same Boat

☝ This content is generated by our users and it is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Want to chat or share? Download the Alike app now and get complete access to's unique features.

Alike health

One of the replies in the provided context states that OCD is composed of obsessive thoughts and compulsions to ease the anxiety. For example, having a fear that loved ones will get harmed, so performing specific actions to ease that anxiety. It's important to consult with a medical professional for an accurate diagnosis and to differentiate between anxiety and OCD with mental compulsions.

Find people who are
experiencing a similar
medical reality

100% Free

Download Alike for the full experience


View All


night sweats





Anxiety (Including GAD)