Careers for People with OCD

Man at Work

Careers for people with OCD capitalize on their attention to detail and ability to work away from the public without feeling lonely. Keep in mind that OCD -just like any other mental disorder- varies greatly in terms of severity. While some people with mild OCD symptoms have the ability to excel in many types of jobs, the same may not be true for people with severe OCD.

About OCD and OCPD

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is different from Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD). While many people lump these two distinctly different mental disorders together, or do not even realize that the two exist, the truth is that a person diagnosed with OCD will probably not be suited for the same careers as people with OCPD.

Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder

Understanding the Disorder

Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder is characterized by a rigid adherence to rules and regulations, sometimes to the detriment of the individual or the people around him or her. People with OCPD are typically follow rules to a fault and are generally considered quite stubborn. Inflexibility is a common trait of people with OCPD, and for this reason people with this mental disorder will almost always defer to rules and regulations without regard for moral or ethical considerations.

Career Choice Implications

People with OCPD do well in occupational settings that set clear expectations and have rules that must be followed. Joining the military, working in a manufacturing setting with definitive steps that must be followed, or working as a computer programmer who does not need to interact directly with customers are all great examples of jobs that are suitable for people with OCPD. People with this disorder should avoid jobs that have gray areas with regards to rules and regulations, and may not do well in jobs that require them to interact cordially with customers throughout the day.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Understanding the Disorder

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder falls under the category of Anxiety Disorders in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (IV-TR). It is no wonder this mental disorder is characterized under anxiety; people diagnosed with this mental disorder spend a great deal of time anxious as a result of the obtrusive thoughts in their minds. These thoughts warn them of impending doom or try to convince them that they will -or have already- committed some horrible act.

A good example of these types of thoughts you might experience with OCD is the persistent and nagging thought that you have run a pedestrian over and just can't remember having done so, which may lead you to retrace your driving path several times just to prove to yourself that you did not actually run someone over. To alleviate the stress from the obsession, you may do something unrelated that somehow convinces you that everything is fine. For example, you may honk your car horn eight times before leaving your driveway because you believe this will stop you from hitting any pedestrians.

Career Choice Implications

OCD is a serious mental disease that can be quite debilitating. While everyone experiences intrusive thoughts once in a while, people with severe OCD are crippled by these thoughts and may not be able to work at all. People with OCD who are receiving treatment that is proving successful (whether through psychotherapy, medications or both) may be able to hold nearly any type of job as long as they can keep their compulsions under control.

Jobs that provide repetition and double-checking may be suitable for some people with OCD. For example, a person with OCD may do well working in a quality control capacity, but this depends largely on how severe the OCD is. A person with severe OCD would actually have difficulties acting in a quality control capacity while a person with minor OCD would probably excel.

Finding the Best Careers for People with OCD

Since the severity of OCD can range from quirky personality traits to debilitating obsessions and compulsions that do not allow the affected person to leave his or her home, it is difficult to pinpoint which careers are best suited for people diagnosed with this mental disorder.

For people with OCD that is generally under control, a wide variety of careers may be appropriate:

  • Jobs that allow people to walk away from work when necessary for a break, such as an online customer support agent or an assembly line worker
  • Jobs that do not make people come into contact with anything that may be considered a contaminant
  • Jobs that do not involve peril or distressing situations.

The best careers for people with OCD are those that are enjoyable and do not induce additional anxiety. These careers can be incredibly beneficial to people suffering from OCD.

Careers for People with OCD