Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD)​


Obsessive compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) is a mental illness in which you are overly obsessed with maintaining order and following rules. If things don’t work out the way that you feel comfortable with, you are likely to feel angry, irritated and annoyed. You can only make decisions within an established set of rules and known circumstances, but when rules and established procedures don’t dictate the situation, you get stuck in a time consuming and complicated decision making process. This often gets so out of hand that you never get started on any of your commitments. You are likely to be a high achiever and want things done in exactly the way you want them.

If you have OCPD, you have difficulty expressing your emotions, are stiff and formal in normal situations and hold back your thoughts until you are sure that you are saying the right thing. You may also get easily riled up about something and rather than expressing your anger about the situation, choose to express it about a different issue entirely. Sometimes you may get unjustifiably angry about a minor issue. 

OCPD normally manifests itself in adulthood, and is fairly uncommon in children and teenagers. It is a genetic disorder which means that having a family history often causes it, along with environmental factors. It occurs among both men and women but is more common in the former. ​

Obsessive compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) is different from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), although the two are often used interchangeably. While OCPD manifests itself as the need to gain control and order over things and is a  personality disorder, OCD on the other hand is an anxiety disorder. OCD is characterized by obsessions (unwanted thoughts and ideas) and compulsions (behaviours one may see necessary to adopt).

Common symptoms of OCPD include:

  • Being pre-occupied with rules, details and orderliness

  • Perfectionism in everything that you do

  • Excluding yourself from leisure activities in order to devote yourself to work

  • Being inflexible in your opinions

  • Being reluctant to delegate any work to others, or demanding that it should be performed in the way that you choose

  • Being stubborn

  • Being extremely stingy

  • Being unable to discard or worthless objects even when they have no sentimental value

The disorder gets better as you get older, with the symptoms peaking at by the time you are in your 40s and 50s. ​

If you are extremely concerned with rules and order, to the extent that it affects your decision making and relationships, you may be suffering from obsessive compulsive personality disorder. If such symptoms manifest themselves, seek help from your doctor working with the Mind and Brain Service Line at The Aga Khan University Hospital. You can safely and privately discuss your symptoms, gain advice and receive personalized treatment and care.​

Your time with your doctor may be limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.​

There is no laboratory, blood or genetic test that can be used to diagnose obsessive compulsive personality disorder. Therefore it is often underdiagnosed or misdiagnosed, and also because the symptoms are common to other types of disorders. Your psychiatrist or psychologist will be able to detect OCPD on the basis of a detailed interview and a discussion about your symptoms. You will be asked about personal and family medical histories, including any history of mental illnesses. This information will help your doctor to decide on the best treatment. 

You are unlikely to admit to having a problem if you suffer from OCPD. If you don't discuss all of your symptoms with your doctor in detail, it can prove to become difficult for him/her to formulate the necessary treatment plan.​

You may also be asked to undertake blood tests to check for thyroid levels, or presence of any medications or alcohol.

Psychotherapy is the main form of treatment for OCPD. Therapy or counselling will involve talking to your doctor about your feelings and symptoms, and building rapport and trust over time. Therapy can help you to identify and change your core beliefs and/or behaviours that may be causing an inaccurate perception of yourself and others and creating problems in your interactions with others. Because you have difficulty in accepting others’ opinions, it is unlikely that your doctor will make much headway initially. One important aspect of the treatment is to try and have you examine and identify your feelings, rather than just theorizing or distancing themselves from them. Therapeutic help may be difficult for you to accept because you have such a black and white view of the world. However, once your therapist has gained your trust and you accept the treatment plan, you are likely to stick to it meticulously as you do in every other aspect of your life.

Medication is generally not used to treat OCPD but for some people, medications can help reduce symptoms such aggression, especially if you present with symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) as well. While medications do not cure OCPD, some medications may be helpful in managing specific symptoms. Medications can cause different side effects in different people. If you have OCPD, you should discus with your doctor about what to expect from a particular medication.​

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the 'Important Numbers' section on the website homepage.​

The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments' costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the 'Important Numbers' section on the website homepage.​

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.​




The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.