Posted by: jedwardswright | August 12, 2011

Depression, Obsessions & Compulsions

One thing that I have learned in my ongoing study and experience of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is that depression is not exclusive. In fact, depression often hangs out with a bad crowd including bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, and obsessive compulsive-disorder (OCD).

When one illness co-exists with another, they are considered to be “co-morbid,” which is simply a fancy way of saying that they show up in the same place at the same time. Studies have shown that people with depression often show symptoms of anxiety as well. [i]MDD and OCD (which is a type of anxiety disorder) are thus considered to be co-morbid illnesses as both frequently occur together in the same person.[ii]

What is obsessive-compulsive disorder?

Obsessions are thoughts and feelings that are strong, persistent and create significant anxiety. Compulsions are actions that the affected person does in an attempt to control the anxiety he or she feels.[iii]  Someone with OCD has obsessions and compulsions they have been unable to stop  that interfere with his or her ability to cope with life.

Symptoms of OCD include:

  • Preoccupation with order, cleanliness or germs
  • Need to check and re-check that doors are locked, electrical appliances are turned off, or routine tasks have in been done
  • Hoarding items of dubious value
  • Worry about one’s health that continues even after doctors’ reassurances
  • Urges to pick or scratch at skin without apparent physical cause
  • Severe obsession with religion
  • Fixation on a topic or activity, list-making or collecting regarding that fixation

Why do depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder often occur together?

    • Possibly the stress of having OCD can cause a person to be depressed. In this case the depression would be secondary to, or caused by, OCD.
    • Both MDD and OCD are caused by chemical imbalances in the brain, and similar chemicals are involved in these conditions, so it is conceivable that the imbalance that results in a mood disorder could also affect a person’s level of anxiety as well. [iv]

What are the treatments for MDD and OCD?

Fortunately, the treatment protocols for both conditions are similar.  Psychotherapy and/or medication can reduce depression and anxiety in most people. Relaxation techniques and limiting stressful situations are often effective with both. As always, making changes to live a healthier lifestyle are also recommended. [v]

If you think it is possible that you are suffering from both depression and OCD, describe your symptoms to your doctor or therapist. If you find you are reluctant to describe certain thoughts or actions, try to put aside your embarrassment and worry enough to persevere. Remember, these professionals have heard many stories, and they are trained to be helpful and non-judgmental. Try writing out your concerns ahead of time, then read or show them to your physician or therapist.

You are not alone. There are millions of people struggling with the same issues that you face. Please choose to make an appointment to seek help today.

Resources

Mood and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Science Finds a Link between OCD and Bipolar Disorder

The Link Between Depression and Other Mental Illnesses

Is it possible to have depression and anxiety at the same time?

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