Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

  • Medical Author:
    Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD

    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.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    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.

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What happens if OCD is not treated? What are complications of obsessive compulsive disorder?

Without treatment, the severity of OCD can worsen to the point that the sufferer's life becomes consumed. Specifically, it can inhibit their ability to attend school, keep a job, and/or can lead to social isolation. Many people with this condition consider killing themselves, and about 1% die by suicide.

Regarding 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, and trichotillomania can result in unsightly scabs on the person's scalp.

What is the prognosis for obsessive compulsive disorder?

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 this condition longer prior to being diagnosed and treated are both at higher risk of having more severe OCD and of developing other mental health illnesses (co-morbidity) in the future.

Is it possible to prevent obsessive compulsive disorder?

OCD is best prevented through early recognition and treatment. Specifically, recognizing warning signs that a child may be at risk for developing this illness can be a place to start. Examples of such early warning signs include excessive complaints by or agitation of (hypersensitivity) the child that certain clothes or food textures are intolerable, specific food aversion, as well as the child engaging in rigid patterns of behavior.

Where can people get more information about obsessive compulsive disorder?

Further information about OCD can be gained from the following resources.

Anxiety Disorders Association of America
240-485-1001
http://www.adaa.org

American Psychiatric Association
703-907-7300
http://www.psych.org

National Institute of Mental Health
866-615-6464
http://www.nimh.nih.gov

International OCD Foundation
http://www.ocfoundation.org/
PO Box 961029
Boston, Mass. 02196
617-973-5801

Obsessive Compulsive Anonymous World Services (OCA)
516-741-4901
http://www.obsessivecompulsiveanonymous.org

OCD Recovery Centers of America
http://www.ocdrecoverycenters.com/

OCD Online
http://www.ocdonline.com/

Tourette Syndrome Association
http://www.tsa-usa.org/

Trichotillomania Learning Center
http://www.trich.org/

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Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/11/2016
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