Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a complex mental health condition that is frequently accompanied by other disorders.
These co-occurring disorders include depression, characterized by persistent sadness and loss of interest; anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder, which involve excessive worry and fear; Tourette Syndrome, a neurological condition causing involuntary movements and vocalizations; eating disorders like anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or binge-eating disorder, involving severe disturbances in eating behaviors; and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), a neurodevelopmental disorder marked by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.
These conditions can interact with OCD in unique ways, often exacerbating the severity and complexity of symptoms.
- Depression: Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a common co-occurring disorder in individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). MDD is characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed, changes in appetite or weight, difficulty sleeping, lack of energy, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, and recurrent thoughts of death or suicide. The constant stress and anxiety of OCD can trigger depressive symptoms, and vice versa. The two conditions can fuel each other, creating a cycle of worsening mental health.
- Anxiety Disorders: Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder are commonly seen in individuals with OCD. These disorders are characterized by persistent and excessive worry, fear, and anxiety about different aspects of life, including social interactions, performance, and health issues. The repetitive obsessions and compulsions of OCD often exacerbate these anxieties, while the constant worry inherent in these disorders can trigger OCD symptoms.
- Tourette Syndrome: This neurological disorder, characterized by repeated involuntary movements and vocalizations called tics, is often co-morbid with OCD. Though the exact relationship between the two isn’t fully understood, they share some similarities in their neurological underpinnings and often respond to similar medications.
- Eating Disorders: People with OCD may also suffer from eating disorders like anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or binge-eating disorder. These disorders involve severe disturbances in eating behaviors, from extreme restriction of intake, to binge eating, to purging behaviors. The compulsive nature of OCD can contribute to the rigid food rules and rituals seen in eating disorders, and the distress around body image or weight can feed into OCD symptoms.
- Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by persistent patterns of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Individuals with both OCD and ADHD may find it difficult to focus and may struggle with organizational skills, often leading to further distress and an exacerbation of OCD symptoms.
These disorders may appear together more frequently due to common underlying factors or interactions between symptoms, but not everyone with OCD will experience these co-morbid conditions. Moreover, the presence of multiple disorders makes treatment more complex and necessitates a comprehensive and integrated approach to care.
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