As you probably already know, OCD symptoms do vary a lot. Frankly, I do not know about any other condition that might vary in nature that much. Maybe, you and I are used to seeing people who clean hands continuously in the movies. This is usually how the movie producers are willing to portray this disorder on a big screen.
I also believe that washing hands is no more common than counting numbers in the head or checking things. For instance, I checked the lights, the door knob, and the stove in my apartment to make sure the place was safe. There were times I could stop myself from checking these things when I was leaving apartment. However, as soon as I would walk to the elevator, I had to come back because I knew I just would not be able to leave the place without checking to make sure everything was safe. Those were my OCD symptoms. Unlike my own stuttering, which was always quite severe, my OCD symptoms ranged from being mild to moderate. Obviously, the more stress I had encountered in my daily living, the more severe those symptoms were.
People might have different symptoms too. They can have persistent thoughts of doing something that is not socially acceptable. These “socially unacceptable” acts can vary in nature as well. Hurting someone is one of those typically encountered “socially unacceptable” acts. Also, there can be as many different rituals as they are psychiatric disorders. My ritual was rather simple. I always checked things many times before I would leave my apartment or after I used some of those “problem” things, such as the light switch.
Often, the sufferers choose to treat themselves in a way that leads them to experience more pain. I have heard of people who use alcohol and drugs to deal with this problem. As you know, it is no way to "treat" this disorder. Luckily for me, I could not tell you if it works or not because I never used those distractions myself. However, I do know that if a person will continue to deal with OCD symptoms this way, he or she will develop another serious problem. If one problem will make you use psychiatric medications, the other problem will eventually make you attend Alcoholic Anonymous meetings. Eventually, you will end up having two serious problems.
Although I never used alcohol and drugs to deal with this problem, I used food to get rid of my pain. I knew I was different from other people. I always felt I could not belong to any group. What were my favorite foods that I used to deal with pain? I could eat two boxes of chocoloate chip cookies in just one sitting. I could eat an entire cake. As you might guess, I kept gaining weight. I felt bad, and I knew I looked awful. However, while eating those foods, I felt better. Afterwards, I felt even worse than I did before eating them. I was depressed. However, my situation is not unique.
I did read somewhere that people with OCD are often depressed. I believe that the same thing can be said about any other disorder. Whenever you have something you feel is uncontrollable, you are more than likely to become depressed. Various eating disorders and anxiety disorders in many cases accompany OCD as well. However, I did not come across too many people with those.
Some people avoid situations completely that provoke OCD symptoms. In this regard, these sufferers mimic the stutterers. A person who stutters avoids speech situations. Eventually, avoiding a great number of stress-provoking situations causes this person to lose many opportunities in life. In all those cases, the treatment is much needed.
Recently, I looked at available statistics. Some reliable statistics state that there are approximately two million people in the United States of America who have OCD. I will tell you this number is a lot higher than what those statistics state. Many people are simply not aware of having this problem. Some people are aware of this problem, but do their best to hide it. I would estimate there are probably twice as much people with OCD as statistical data indicates.
I also believe that this problem exists to a certain extent in almost everyone you will see on the streets. It might have different names as well. A person who compulsively overeats can be called a compulsive over-eater. A person who compulsively works out is called a bodybuilder. Nevertheless, both people can suffer greatly from these compulsions.
In summary, OCD symptoms vary in nature. People use methods of treatment that can negatively impact their lives. Using alcohol or drugs does not work in a long term. You will be better off facing the fact you are having this problem and taking actions to change it.