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  • Writer's pictureRoger Chen

Co-existing Disorders

Updated: Jan 30, 2021

There are many disorders that potentially co-exist with OCD. Since OCD includes anxiety and a compulsive disorders, people with OCD also tend to suffer from other mental illnesses that come under these categories such as Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Tourettes Syndrome.

According to the most recent study of mental health in adults across the United States, 90% of the adults who reported OCD at some point in their lives also had at least one other condition linking to OCD, including anxiety, mood, ADHD, oppositional-defiant, and substance use disorders.

Anxiety Disorders: Anxiety disorders that may occur with OCD include Separation Anxiety Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder (frequent panic attacks), Social Anxiety Disorder and Specific Phobias, such as fear of snakes or heights. All of these disorders share features of excessive fear and anxiety. However, due to each disorder being different, symptoms can be quite varied.

Major Depressive Disorder: Symptoms of depression may include a persistent, sad, empty or hopeless mood, and loss of interest in usually pleasurable activities. Furthermore, people may experience decreased energy, difficulty concentrating, insomnia or oversleeping, irritability, weight gain or loss, and suicidal thoughts.

Tourette Syndrome: Tics are sudden, rapid, recurrent, motor movements (such as blinking, shrugging shoulders) or vocalizations (such as sniffing or grunting). Persistent (Chronic) Motor or Vocal Tic Disorder involves either motor or vocal tics only. Tourette Syndrome is an example of a disorder that is linked to OCD that I also suffer from.

Trichotillomania: Trichotillomania is characterized by the recurrent pulling out of one’s own hair from any region of the body in which hair grows, resulting in hair loss, as well as repeated attempts to reduce or stop hair pulling. Common areas of pulling include the eyebrows, scalp, and eyelids.  Hair pulling may be preceded or accompanied by feelings of anxiety or boredom; it may also be preceded by an increasing sense of tension or lead to a sense of relief when the hair is pulled out.

Excoriation (skin-picking disorder): Excoriation disorder is characterized by recurrent skin picking that results in noticeable (or hidden) damage to the skin (e.g. scabs, sores). As with Trichotillomania, the individual with Excoriation Disorder has made repeated attempts to reduce or stop skin picking. Skin picking may be triggered by feelings of anxiety or boredom, it may also be preceded by an increasing sense of tension and lead to a sense of relief when the skin or a scab has been picked.

These disorders are a few that are frequently combined with OCD and at least one from this list can be possessed by almost every OCD sufferer. In order to seek advice or learn about linked disorders, contact a therapist/GP or simply talk to someone you thoroughly trust in order to gain help and support.

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