8 Signs That You Might Have Existential OCD

A checklist of common symptoms and behaviors. If you're suffering, consult a licensed professional.

Key Takeaways:
  • Existential OCD is a subset of OCD in which sufferers are preoccupied with the philosophical aspects of life. You might obsess over questions like "What’s the meaning of life?" or "Why are we even here?"
  • Identifying subtypes of Pure OCD can be very difficult. Symptoms manifest differently for each sufferer. However, there tend to be common thoughts and behaviors that may indicate someone is suffering from Existential OCD.
  • Dr. Jordan Levy is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Manhattan at the Center for Cognitive-Behavioral Psychotherapy and in Livingston, New Jersey.

1. Are you experiencing obsessive thoughts about the meaning of life? For example, thinking things like “What does it all mean? What is the point? What is my purpose on this planet?”

2. Do you question if the world is real around you or that you are not real?

3. Do you fear that you are in a dream or an alternate reality? For example, thinking things like “What if I am in The Matrix or Inception? What if I’m stuck in a dream or someone else’s dream?”

4. Does the concept of infinity or the afterlife bother you? For example, infinity is such a large open-ended concept that humans are unable to comprehend. Many individuals with OCD will become stuck on the idea of infinity.

5. Have you sought physical evidence that the world around you is real?

6. Do you spend endless amounts of time trying to figure out the answers to life’s biggest mysteries and feel like you have to know now?

7. Do you avoid movies, literature, and conversations that make you think about reality and the meaning of life?

8. Do you feel anxious when you are “out of it” or experiencing déjà vu or feel generally out of focus?

*This checklist is not intended to serve as a replacement for a diagnosis by a qualified licensed psychologist.