If you have OCD, you know that it rarely occurs in isolation - in fact, there are many OCD related disorders. Importantly, the presence of another mental illness can affect both OCD symptoms and treatment for OCD. Let's explore some of the more common OCD related disorders.
Bipolar disorder is a mental illness where the affected person experiences one or more "manic" or "mixed" episodes; however, most people with bipolar disorder have also had one or more episodes of depression. Clinical research suggests that OCD and bipolar disorder co-occur with another at a high rate and may be linked to another through psychological and biological mechanisms.
Major Depressive Disorder
One of the most common mental illnesses to occur with OCD is major depressive disorder. On average, about two thirds of people with OCD will experience an episode of major depression in their lifetime. In the majority of cases, depression occurs after the onset of OCD symptoms. This suggests that depression may often result from the on-going distress caused by the problems at work and at home that are often associated with symptoms of OCD. The presence of depression often has a very negative impact on the treatment of OCD symptoms.
Fear and anxiety are an unavoidable, but necessary, part of life. When you experience the familiar physical and psychological signs of fear and anxiety such as sweating, racing heart, shortness of breath, trembling, worry, or stress, these are cues that there is something happening that you need to attended to. This "flight or fight" reaction activates the physical and psychological resources necessary to deal with the potential danger. Although this system works well most of the time, sometimes it can go into overdrive and do more harm than good. Anxiety disorders are prolonged exaggerations of our normal and adaptive reaction to fearful or stressful event. It is not uncommon for OCD (which is itself an anxiety disorder) to occur with other anxiety disorders such as panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder.
Pathological or compulsive hoarding is a specific type of behavior characterized by acquiring and failing to throw out a large number of items that would appear to have little or no value to others, severe cluttering of the person's home so that it is no longer able to function as a viable living space and significant distress or impairment of work or social life. Although hoarding often occurs with OCD the two are not always linked
Tourette's syndrome is named after French neurologist Georges Gilles de la Tourette who first described this disorder in 1885. This relatively rare childhood-onset movement disorder is often associated with OCD and other behavioral problems. The main symptom associated with Tourette's syndrome is the presence of motor and vocal tics. Tics are sudden, brief, involuntary or semi-voluntary movements or sounds. It is five times more common among males than females and usually begins between 8 and 10 years of age.
Schizophrenia is a chronic disorder in which you experience a variety of symptoms including delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, disorganized behavior and catatonia. Schizophrenia and OCD co-occur with one another at a higher rate then would be expected in the general population. It has been estimated that approximately 15% of people with OCD also have schizophrenia. Although the link between these disorders remains unclear, new clues are about their association are starting to emerge.
Substance Use Disorders
People affected by OCD are at greater risk for developing substance use disorders. Indeed, it has been estimated that almost 30% of people with OCD have had a substance use disorder at some point in their lives; this is nearly double the rate of the general population. Although alcohol and drug use may initially mask OCD symptoms, in the long run using substances can make symptoms worse, interfere with treatment and disrupt supportive relationships.