What Is Compulsive Behavior? – Signs And Treatment

Compulsive Behavior

Compulsive behavior is a problem that many people deal with daily. It can be difficult to overcome, but it is possible. In this blog post, we will discuss what compulsive behavior is and how to treat it. We will also provide some helpful tips for overcoming this problem. If you or someone you know is struggling with obsessive behavior, please continue reading!

What Is Compulsive Behavior?

Compulsive behavior is a type of mental disorder in which an individual engages in an activity, such as gambling or shopping, compulsively and to excess. Compulsive behaviors can be harmful to people’s physical health, emotional well-being, and relationships. These behavior patterns can be difficult to break and may cause a person to feel shame, guilt, or depression.

What Are The Signs Of Compulsive Behavior?

Signs Of Compulsive Behavior

There are several signs of compulsive behavior that you should watch out for. These include:

  • Difficulty controlling impulses: A person may feel like they have no control over the urge to engage in the activity compulsively. The person keeps engaging in the same behavior over and over again.
  • Engaging in the activity despite negative consequences: Despite feeling guilty or ashamed after engaging in an activity compulsively, a person may continue doing it anyway because it gives them relief from their anxious thoughts and feelings.
  • Feelings of guilt and shame: Those who suffer from compulsive behavior often experience intense feelings of guilt and shame. After engaging in an activity but not being able to stop it. An intense anxious feeling or guilty about engaging in this behavior.
  • Obsessing over the activity: A person may feel an intense need to constantly think about or plan for engaging in the activity.

What Are Examples Of Compulsive Behaviors?

People with compulsive behavior may engage in activities such as gambling, shopping, or eating. They might also have difficulty controlling their spending habits or struggle with an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol. Some people may even find themselves compulsively checking their phones, engaging in self-harm behaviors, or constantly seeking approval from others.

Some common examples of compulsive behaviors include:

Contamination Or Cleaning Compulsions

Washing hands or other body parts excessively, repetitively checking for dirt and germs on surfaces or objects. These types of behaviors are responsible for a fear of contamination.

Suspiciousness Or Hoarding

Unreasonably mistrusting others or keeping objects for no logical reason. This behavior may be caused by a fear of being taken advantage of. Habits such as nail biting and skin picking, repetitively biting nails, picking at skin, and other similar actions. These actions are often used as coping

Ordering Or Arranging Compulsions

Arranging items in a particular order or pattern, having to have objects “just so”.

This behavior can involve sorting items into categories, organizing them in specific patterns, or aligning them perfectly in rows or columns. These compulsions can be time-consuming and interfere with day-to-day activities such as work, school, or socializing. People with ordering and arranging compulsions may also feel a strong sense of distress if their arrangements are disturbed or changed in any way.

Intrusive Thoughts Over Various things

Intrusive Thoughts

Obsessive thoughts or worries over seemingly insignificant things like the order of books on a shelf, double checking that the door is locked multiple times. This includes sexual, religious, or violent thoughts. Other things could be a relationship, harm, or perfectionism-related. This behavior may be caused by a fear of being judged or making mistakes.

Relation Between Compulsive Behavior And OCD

Compulsive Behavior And OCD

Compulsive behavior is a key symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). People with OCD often have uncontrollable, repeated behaviors or mental acts. They feel compelled to perform such acts in order to relieve anxiety. Common compulsions include hand washing, counting, checking, and hoarding. These behaviors are often performed in response to intrusive or disturbing thoughts, images, or impulses that are experienced as irresistible.

While compulsions can provide temporary relief from anxiety and distress, they ultimately do not help the person with OCD manage their symptoms long-term. In fact, engaging in compulsions can actually reinforce the underlying fear of what will happen if the behavior is not performed, actually making OCD symptoms worse. This can create a vicious cycle of compulsions and anxiety that is difficult to break.

What Triggers Compulsive Behavior?

Generally, it is not known what triggers compulsive behavior as it can be different for everyone. But, some potential triggers can include stress, trauma, or a person’s environment. It is important to identify any potential triggers and work on ways to avoid or manage them.

  • Genetic: Compulsive behavior can also have a genetic component. Many mental illnesses and disorders have been linked to genetics, so if you or someone in your family has compulsive behavior it could be passed down genetically.
  • Environmental: The environment someone is in can also play a role in compulsive behavior. If certain people or situations trigger the person to engage in compulsive behavior, it is important to identify this and work on avoiding or managing these triggers as much as possible. Traumatic events in childhood such as abuse, neglect, or other traumatic experiences can also trigger this condition in adulthood.
  • Nero-biological: Neuro-biological factors have also been linked to compulsive behavior. It is believed that certain neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, can play a role in OCD and behavior. Depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders can also be linked to compulsive behavior.

What Are The Treatments Of Compulsive Behavior?

Treatments Of Compulsive Behavior

Here are some possible treatments for compulsive behavior that can help a person manage their Obsessive behavior and live a healthier life:


  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a type of therapy that focuses on changing the thought patterns and behaviors that are associated with compulsive behavior. This form of therapy can help a person identify triggers and address any underlying mental health issues such as depression or anxiety.
  • Exposure And Response Prevention: ERP is a type of therapy that works on changing the person’s relationship with their compulsive behavior. This form of therapy helps a person to develop coping skills and strategies to resist engaging in compulsive behavior. This form of therapy focuses on exposing the person to their triggers and teaching them how to resist engaging in the behavior. This therapy works on a few techniques which are:

The imaginal Exposure technique helps a person work on their relationship with compulsive behavior by imagining the trigger and the associated feelings. In Vivo, Exposure therapy works on exposing the person to actual triggers in real-life situations. Once the person has faced the trigger, they are taught how to resist engaging in their compulsive behavior. Interoceptive Exposure therapy works on identifying and facing the physical sensations associated with engaging in compulsive behavior.

  • Acceptance And Commitment Therapy: ACT is a type of therapy that works on accepting the reality of compulsive behavior and engaging in healthier coping strategies.
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy: DBT is a type of therapy that focuses on teaching skills to help manage compulsive behavior. This form of therapy works on teaching skills such as distress tolerance and emotion regulation, which can help a person to better manage their emotions and reactions in triggering situations.


MedicationCertain medications, such as antidepressants, are beneficial in treating compulsive behavior. Medications can help balance chemicals in the brain that may contribute to obsessive behavior. Antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, mood stabilizers, and antipsychotic medications are all commonly prescribed for people suffering from obsessive behaviors. Herbal medications are also available and can help reduce the symptoms of obsessive behavior.

Alternative Treatments

  • Mindfulness Strategies: Mindfulness strategies are a great way to work on reducing compulsive behavior. It is a type of meditation practice that works on focusing on the present moment and accepting thoughts, feelings, and sensations without judgment. This can help with managing stress and anxiety levels, which in turn can help reduce compulsive behavior. Exercises are typically used to help practice mindfulness, such as breathing exercises and body scans. It includes running, yoga, meditation, etc.
  • Self-Help Techniques: Self-help techniques are a great way to manage compulsive behaviors. These can include journaling, keeping track of triggers, and avoiding situations that may trigger the behavior. It is also important for a person to practice self-care and be mindful of their mental health to manage any underlying issues that may be causing their compulsive behavior.
  • Support Groups

Support GroupsParticipating in support groups can also be beneficial for those struggling with compulsive behavior. It can provide them with an opportunity to connect with other people who are going through similar experiences and learn strategies to reduce or manage their obsessive behavior. It is also beneficial for people to be part of a community of understanding and compassionate people who are willing to listen and offer support.

  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation: Transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy is a non-invasive method used to treat compulsive and obsessive behavior. During this form of treatment, the person sits in a chair and a machine produces electromagnetic pulses that are delivered to specific brain areas.
  • Deep Brain Stimulation: Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is an invasive procedure used to treat compulsive behavior in some cases. A surgeon implants electrodes into specific areas of the brain, which are connected to a pacemaker-like device that sends electrical signals to those regions.

Can You Cure Compulsive Behavior?

Cure Compulsive Behavior

Compulsive behavior is a complex issue and there is no one-size-fits-all treatment. It requires an individualized approach to ensure that the most effective methods are being used. While there is no cure for compulsive behavior, it can be managed with the right combination of therapies, medications, and self-help techniques. It’s important to remember that recovery from obsessive behavior takes time and patience. A combination of treatments may be necessary to achieve lasting results. With the right treatment, individuals can learn how to manage their obsessive behaviors and live healthier lives.

To stop compulsive behavior, individuals must first address the underlying issues that are causing it. They should also develop healthier coping strategies. All of this will be helpful in managing their stress levels and creating boundaries around engaging in obsessive behaviors.

Additionally, self-help techniques such as journaling and mindfulness can be used to recognize patterns in behavior and make changes accordingly. Seeking professional help can be beneficial in understanding the root causes of this condition and learning strategies to manage it.


Compulsive behavior is a serious issue that needs to be addressed for people to lead healthy and productive lives. Treatment for obsessive behavior involves a combination of therapy, medication, mindfulness strategies, self-help techniques, and support groups. It is important to remember recovery is possible with the right treatment plan and support system.

It is also important to recognize that healing takes time and patience, so don’t give up hope if progress feels slow or difficult at times.

Take care, and don’t forget that you are not alone! OCD is a mental health disorder characterized by obsessions and compulsions. If you have any queries regarding OCD treatmentERP therapy experienced therapists at OCDMantra can help: Book a trial OCD therapy session