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Outline Tracing Disorder- Everything You Need to Know

Mental happiness and contentment define half of your well-being.  Good physical and mental health goes hand in hand in the maintenance of the perfect quality of life.

Other than severe psychic problems, you may also experience a different sort of mental condition called ‘Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)’. Though it has the word disorder included in its name. It generally does not affect you like other psychological problems.

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OCD does not necessarily make you socially unaccepted because you are certainly a psychic patient. This is just an obsession that can be improved over time with treatment and self-control.

Outline tracing disorder is one type of OCD from many different kinds of it. This article has insight regarding this particularly. It also lets you understand the basic concept of OCD.

Let’s start!

Table of Content

What is Outline Tracing Disorder?

Outline Tracing Disorder can be defined as an unusual state wherein you continuously keep outlining the shape of various living or non-living objects present in front of you.

You might be relaxing, sitting on the sofa, absolutely quiet, thinking about something. Suddenly, you notice that at the same time you have been consistently drawing the boundaries of an object. It may be the line around the whole area of the roof or the walls surrounding the windows, or anything else nearby.


In some cases, the shapes you trace are so large that you find yourself having to change your position to continue your outline. Although this condition is called a disorder, it is actually entirely harmless.

Nevertheless, behaviors of Outline Tracing Disorder fall under the category of OCD as people generally do not experience this urge.

So, what is OCD?

OCD can be portrayed by compulsions, impulses, or obsessive thoughts that are hard to subdue and take away a lot of time and energy from your life. These compulsions can interfere with your work, school, or spending time with your loved ones.

If such symptoms of OCD manifest, it’s imperative to consult with a psychologist who will be able to assess your condition and provide treatment.

Facts About Outline Tracing Disorder

  • Outline Tracing Disorder is not as uncommon as you may think. You may even find individuals around you experiencing this condition.
  • This is a chronic condition which many individuals of all ages can experience.
  • Some individuals attempt to hide their condition, keeping it from their friends and family.
  • Most people find that they participate in this activity subconsciously and cannot control it, often leading to feelings of disappointment.
  • Although some find that dealing with this condition can be irritating, it does not usually have a significantly negative impact on your life. In fact, some exceptionally successful individuals have learned to adapt to it completely.
  • Individuals can complete their tracings in distinct ways by utilizing teeth, toes, tongue, and habitually including the movement of the head, or even moving their entire body to capture the shape. Some can also trace shapes they see in their mind.
  • There is a connection with other mental health conditions, such as other forms of OCD (particularly tallying).
  • Those who suffer from Outline Tracing Disorder can also experience depression, anxiety, and chronic headaches.
  • Outlining generally occurs while an individual is in a relaxed condition, such as when watching TV.
  • They may do it as a way to relax and may find it very difficult to stop.
  • Rarely, individuals complain that tracing prevents their ability to focus. Others can consider it recreational.
  • Some have found that the impulse to trace has increased with age.

What Causes Outline Tracing Disorder?

Although the root cause of OTD is unclear, specialists do maintain several hypotheses. It is believed that OTD can occur as a result of hereditary, neurological, psychological, environmental, and behavioral factors. Since OTD can also be a component of OCD, some have stated that the cause for both disorders can be the same.

Genetic Causes

Several such mental conditions have been found to pass on from generation to generation. This connection points to a potential hereditary inheritance of this disorder.

Imaging studies have proposed that the brains of individuals with these medical conditions work differently in comparison to those without this disorder. Genes affecting the brain’s response to certain neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine may also play a role in this condition.

Immune-System Related Causes

Sometimes, manifestations of this disorder can occur after suffering from an unrelated infection, particularly in children. This can include:

  • Streptococcal infection causing strep throat
  • Lyme disease
  • The H1N1 influenza virus

In some cases, doctors call this manifestation of this disorder a “Pediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric syndrome (PANS)”

In a baby with PANS, the manifestations of OTD can begin abruptly and at full intensity within a time span of 24–72 hours. Symptoms may then vanish completely or re-appear at a later time.

Behavioral Causes

Another potential cause of OTD is the comorbid presence of other mental health disorders. For example, those suffering from stress, PTSD, depression, or anxiety may find themselves more likely to develop the impulse of Obsessive Tracing Disorder as a way to find relief from their other conditions.  One way to prevent the manifestation of OTD is to treat any other underlying mental health disorders or comorbidities.

For example, an individual facing a large amount of stress or dealing with a serious trauma may feel inclined to compulsively trace objects as a way of avoiding their thoughts or relaxing. This may be more common in those with a hereditary predisposition for the disorder.

Environmental Causes

Sometimes, life circumstances may also trigger the development of OTD. This usually occurs in those who are already predisposed to the disorder due to other hereditary, immune, or behavioral factors.

Many have reported that symptoms of OTD have manifested within 6 months of certain occurrences such as:

  • A serious conflict
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Pregnancy or delivery-related complications
  • Childbirth
  • Severe illness

Psychological Causes

Another hypothesis finds that manifestation of Outline Tracing Disorder can be associated with intrusive thoughts.

Although most people can experience intrusive thoughts from time to time, those with OTD may suffer from serious and dangerous intrusive thoughts on a more frequent basis. This can be extremely overwhelming and challenging to deal with.

For example, a mother caring for a newborn can experience intrusive thoughts about unintentionally hurting her infant. Some mothers may be able to easily dismiss these negative thoughts.

However, others can become constantly preoccupied with this fear resulting in undue stress, anxiety, and a lack of focus. This inability to shake such intrusive thoughts can be more common in those who suffer from OCD, causing them to develop Obsessive Tracing Disorder as a means to distract themselves or quiet their minds.

Outline Tracing Disorder Treatment

If you are suffering from Outline Tracing Disorder, your doctor is likely to suggest treatments that are similar to those used for OCD.You can boost brain activity or preoccupy yourself with other activities and hobbies. One helpful brain boosting supplement is Synapse XT.

What is Synapse XT?

Consulting with your doctor or psychologist can be helpful in recognizing and diagnosing Outline Tracing Disorder.Go through the OCD test and seek help if needed. Some possible treatment options are described below.

Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral Therapy is a psychotherapy largely known as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This can help reform an individual’s thought process to improve the way they think, feel, or behave. Treatment for OCD and OTD includes two forms of behavioral therapy known as “Exposure and response prevention (ERP)” and “cognitive therapy.”


Certain medications can also help with OCD and OTD. This includes antidepressants commonly known as “Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs).” Some examples include:

  • Seratraline (Zoloft)
  • Paroxetin (Paxil)
  • Escitalopram (Lexapro)
  • Fluvoxamine (Prozac)

Many individuals suffering from OCD can benefit from taking SSRIs alone. However, a combination of Behavioral Therapy and SSRIs is usually recommended by doctors for optimal results.

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Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

This form of treatment involves brain stimulation therapy. It is usually reserved for those who do not respond to other treatments.


The concept of OCD is still not entirely clear to the medical community. Researchers continue to learn more about OCD presentations and how they can vary from normal behaviors. Hopefully, this article regarding Outline Tracing Disorder will provide some insight on this condition and how it relates to OCD.

The FAQs About Outline Tracing Disorder

  1. What is a Finger Tracing Disorder?

This is a form of OCD where you may find yourself tracing your finger in the air to write the spelling of a word. It is often done subconsciously but may be difficult to stop.

In some cases, you may also outline the shapes of objects in front of you by pointing your finger in the air. If this behavior becomes frustrating or disruptive to your daily life, you may seek help and treatment from a doctor.

  1. Why do I trace things with my eyes?

If you find yourself tracing things with your eyes, then this might be a symptom of Outline Tracing Disorder. People with this form of OCD may do this when they are in a relaxed state without any pressing obligations or work.

  1. What are the common OCD cognitive distortions?

OCD can be characterized by certain alterations in your thinking process which are called cognitive distortions. In order to receive proper treatment, it is vital to identify the exact cognitive distortion. Some regular cognitive distortions may include:

  • Overestimation of danger
  • Over-importance of thoughts
  • Overestimation of consequences
  • Inflation of responsibility
  • Emotional discomfort intolerance
  • Need for certainty

Thanks for Reading!

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