Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) (cont.)

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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.

Anxiety Disorders Association of America

American Psychiatric Association

National Institute of Mental Health

International OCD Foundation
PO Box 961029
Boston, Mass. 02196

OCD Recovery Centers of America


OCD Online

Tourette Syndrome Association

Trichotillomania Learning Center

Medically reviewed by Marina Katz, MD; American Board of Psychiatry & Neurology


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Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/21/2014

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