woman suffering from comorbid disorders

How Comorbid Disorders Affect OCD

90% of people who have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) also live with another mental health disorder, known as a comorbid disorder. Some of the most common comorbid disorders with OCD are:

It’s important for people with OCD and their loved ones to recognize the symptoms of comorbid disorders. Understanding how comorbid conditions affect people with OCD can help patients find the treatment plan they need and see their mental health more holistically.

OCD and Other Anxiety Disorders

Some people classify OCD as a type of anxiety disorder. After all, many obsessions and compulsions come from fear. As such, it may not be surprising that many people with OCD also live with anxiety disorders. Some types of anxiety disorders include:

While the specific symptoms of each disorder vary, they share some key signs. Anxiety disorders create extreme fear and worry in patients. This can worsen symptoms of OCD.

OCD and Types of Depression

Approximately 60% of people with OCD experience at least one bought of depression in their lifetimes. As with anxiety disorders, there are several ways that depression can come about. For example, someone may develop postpartum depression after giving birth and feel different than someone who develops major depression at a different stage in life. Some common symptoms of depression include:

  • Persistent low mood
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Significant weight fluctuations
  • Being uninterested in things you used to like

Bipolar disorder also makes people have periods of depression, and this type of depression can be particularly difficult for people with OCD. Sometimes, the manic periods of bipolar disorder cause patients to stop the treatments that help them manage OCD. People with bipolar disorder are more likely to have OCD as a comorbid disorder than any other anxiety disorder.

It’s important for people with OCD to monitor their symptoms to look for signs of depression, especially thoughts of suicide. Anyone with such thoughts should seek immediate medical attention.

OCD and Eating Disorders

Sometimes, someone with OCD can experience obsessions and compulsions regarding food and/or their body. This can quickly lead to an eating disorder, such as:

  • Anorexia nervosa: eating very little
  • Bulimia: eating normally or excessively, then purging
  • Binge eating disorder: binge eating, sometimes followed by extreme restriction

People with eating disorders experience extreme, obsessive thoughts about food and their bodies. This leads to the processing of food in dangerous ways. If someone with OCD starts experiencing obsessions or compulsions regarding food, they should bring it up to their mental health provider.

OCD and PTSD

Although their portrayals in popular media are vastly different, OCD and PTSD share several important symptoms, including:

  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Avoidance of specific triggers
  • Panic and anxiety in response to triggers

Traumatic events such as witnessing a violent crime, being the victim of a natural disaster, or going through a horrible accident can cause either or both of these conditions. For example, someone who has experienced a home robbery may have flashbacks to the events and other symptoms of PTSD. The same event could also cause the same person to obsess over home safety and need to check the lock on the door several times before sleeping.

If you have OCD and start showing signs of comorbid disorders, be sure to make a mental health appointment soon. Getting a full picture of the state of your mental health can allow you to move forward on your healing journey. The psychiatrists at GBHP can help you determine if you need to change your treatment plan and how to move forward.

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