Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
What happens if OCD is not treated? What are complications of obsessive compulsive disorder?
Without treatment, the symptoms of OCD can progress to the point that the sufferer's life becomes consumed, inhibiting their ability to attend school, keep a job, and/or maintain important relationships. Many people with OCD have thoughts of killing themselves, and about 1% complete suicide.
In terms of the prognosis for the specific symptoms, it is rare for any to progress to a physically debilitating level. However, problems like compulsive hand washing can eventually cause complications like the skin becoming dry and even breaking down. Repeated trichotillomania can result in unsightly scabs on the person's scalp.
What is the prognosis for OCD?
While in about 40% of people diagnosed with OCD the symptoms tend to persist indefinitely to some degree, most are only mildly to moderately affected by those symptoms if adequately treated. People who have the symptoms of OCD longer before being diagnosed and treated are both at higher risk of having more severe OCD and of developing other mental health illnesses in the future.
How is OCD prevented?
OCD is best prevented through early recognition and treatment. Specifically, recognizing warning signs that a child may be at risk for developing OCD can be a place to start. Examples of such early warning signs include excessive complaints (hypersensitivity) by the child that certain clothes or food textures are intolerable, as well as a child who engages in rigid patterns of behavior.
Where can I get more information about obsessive compulsive disorder?
Further information about OCD can be gained from the following resources.
Medically reviewed by Marina Katz, MD; American Board of Psychiatry & Neurology
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