Retroactive OCD: Detailed Guide on This Type of OCD

Retroactive OCD: Comprehensive Guide on This Type of OCD

Retroactive OCD is a type of OCD in which individuals are excessively worried about things that happened in the past. Some people may be concerned about things that happened days, weeks, or even months ago, while others may focus on events from years or even decades ago. For some people, the worry can be so intense and constant that it becomes debilitating. In this blog post, we will provide a detailed guide on how to diagnose and treat retroactive OCD.

What is Retroactive OCD?

What is Retroactive OCD?

Retroactive OCD is an anxiety disorder that typically manifests in adults after a traumatic event. The person with retroactive OCD may be haunted by the fear that they have done something wrong that has yet to be discovered. They may spend hours trying to figure out why they felt compelled to do something or agonizing over what could have been if only they had done something differently. Retroactive OCD can be incredibly debilitating and frustrating for the sufferer.

There is no single cause for retroactive OCD, but it is thought to occur when a person tries to make sense of a traumatic experience and becomes obsessed with finding clues that would confirm their guilt. In some cases, people with retroactive OCD may believe that they are responsible for the death of someone close to them, or that they caused some type of catastrophic event. As such, anything could trigger a bout of obsessive thoughts about what might have happened if only things were different.

Fortunately, there are treatments available for those suffering from retroactive OCD. One approach involves working closely with a therapist who can help identify and address the specific fears fuelling the disorder. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is also widely used to treat retroactive OCD, as it focuses on changing the way people think about their situation to reduce their anxiety. Both approaches can be extremely effective in helping people manage their symptoms and live more normal lives.

Obsessions That are Related to Retroactive OCD

The obsessions that are related to retroactive OCD are intrusive thoughts that persist despite efforts to extinguish them, and a fear of being caught in the act of thinking them. People with retroactive OCD may be preoccupied with thoughts about specific events or situations from the past that they believe have caused them distress or harm. These thoughts can be overwhelming and cause significant anxiety, which can make it difficult to concentrate, function normally, or sleep.

People with retroactive OCD may also have a fear of contamination, often specifically fearing that they will contract a disease if they think about the past negatively. This contamination fear can lead to intense anxiety when around people or objects that could potentially harbor germs from the past, such as hospitals or places where illness was present.

Compulsions That are Related to Retroactive OCD

Compulsions That are Related to Retroactive OCD

The compulsions of retroactive OCD often have to do with repeating a certain action or thought over and over again to neutralize the fear that it may trigger in the future. Common examples include:

1. Checking to make sure that all doors and windows are locked at all times to prevent any potential intruder from entering

2. Repeating words or phrases that have been associated with anxiety or fear to reduce their impact

3. Checking one’s surroundings multiple times a day for signs of danger

4. Make sure that all personal belongings are placed out of sight and securely stored

Testing and Checking Symptoms Related to Retroactive OCD

The tests related to retroactive OCD are as follows:

-The Obsessive-Compulsive Scale (OCS) is a self-report questionnaire that measures the severity of obsessive and compulsive thoughts and behaviors.
-The Yale Obsessive Compulsive Scale (YOCS) is a more specific version of the OCS that is specifically designed for use in clinical settings.
-The Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV OCD (SCID-O) is a semi-structured interview used to diagnose OCD.

If you have retroactive OCD, your symptoms may include:
1. Repeatedly thinking about or focusing on past events or situations that make you feel anxious or ashamed
2. Feeling like you need to be perfect or completely clean to avoid punishment from yourself or others
3. Spending an excessive amount of time cleaning, organizing, or checking your belongings
4. Frequently feeling like you are being watched or monitored
5. Feeling like you are constantly under attack or experiencing strong feelings of guilt or shame

These tests are also useful for diagnosing other conditions that may be associated with OCD, such as anxiety, depression, or PTSD. If you are unsure whether you have retroactive OCD, please consult a healthcare provider.

Treatment Options for Retroactive OCD

Treatment Options for Retroactive OCD

Treating OCD with medications is the most common and effective treatment. However, there are many other options available to those with OCD.

Some people find relief from therapy or self-help materials. Others may require medication and/or electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).


There are several medications available that can be used to treat OCD. The most commonly prescribed medications are SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), but there are also others, such as SNRIs (serotonin noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors) and tricyclic antidepressants.

SSRIs work by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain. This can help to relieve symptoms of OCD. They may take a few weeks to start working, but they usually provide relief within a few months.

SNRIs work in a similar way to SSRIs, but they also increase the amount of norepinephrine in the brain. This can help to improve symptoms related to anxiety and panic attacks. However, SNRIs may also have more side effects than SSRIs, so it is important to discuss any concerns with your doctor before starting treatment.

Tricyclic antidepressants work by affecting chemicals in the brain that are responsible for feeling happy and content. This can help to relieve symptoms of OCD. However, tricyclic antidepressants can also have side effects, so it is important to take them with caution and discuss any concerns with your doctor.

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

ECT is an often-used treatment for severe cases of OCD. It involves giving an electric shock to the brain to relieve symptoms. ECT is usually very effective in treating Retroactive OCD, but it is not always safe or reversible. Before undergoing ECT, it is important to discuss any concerns with your doctor.

Self-Help Materials 

Self-Help Materials 

There are several self-help materials available that can help relieve symptoms of OCD. These materials may include books, articles, websites, or videos. It is important to find resources that are tailored specifically to your needs and preferences.

Support Groups 

Support groups can be incredibly helpful in managing symptoms of OCD. They provide a safe place where people can share their experiences and receive support from others who understand what they’re going through. Group meetings can be helpful in:

  • Helping people to connect with other people who share their symptoms
  • Building support networks that can help people manage their symptoms
  • Providing a sense of community for people who may feel isolated

Talking about treatments and coping strategies with others who are going through the same thing can be very helpful. There are several support groups available, so it is important to find one that is right for you.


OCD is a mental illness that affects the way someone thinks and behaves. It’s characterized by obsessive thoughts, repetitive actions or rituals, and a general anxiety disorder. The good news is that there are treatments available, and as you can read in this detailed guide on Retroactive OCD, many sufferers find that their condition can be managed through medication and therapy. So if you’re struggling with intrusive thoughts or worries about mundane things like germs or toasters, know that there is hope — you are not alone.

For more information and guidance, please contact OCDMantra. OCD is a mental health disorder characterized by obsessions and compulsions. If you have any queries regarding OCD treatment, ERP therapy experienced therapists at OCDMantra can help: Book a trial OCD therapy session