It takes a lot of bravery, courage, and strength for an individual to admit that they are having issues with their mental health and may be struggling with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). So when an individual does manage to get over the hurdle of asking for help, they must get the right diagnosis and the right type of mental health care they need. This includes checking for a dual diagnosis. Also, this is particularly true in understanding comorbidities of OCD.
Understanding Comorbidities of Mental Health and Addiction
Comorbidities of mental health and addiction are more common than many people think. Sometimes this is due to factors that preexist separately, and other times it is from one disorder manifesting from the symptoms of another.
According to the Journal of Medical Internet Research, “The comorbidity of psychological disorders is a common problem that has serious implications for the delivery of health care. The lifetime prevalence of any disorder has been reported to be 46.4%, while the lifetime prevalence of 2 and 3 disorders was found to be 27.7% and 17.3%, respectively.” It is also important to note that many people with comorbidities are both unaware that they have them, and/or are never diagnosed with them.
This is often because one disorder has similar symptoms to the other, so one becomes overshadowed, or a diagnosing clinician does not investigate beyond a single diagnosis. Thus, when understanding the comorbidities of OCD, it is also important to understand that dual diagnoses are sometimes missed.
Understanding Dual Diagnosis and OCD
According to the write-up Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder by Doctors Brock and Hany, “The lifetime prevalence of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is 1.6% to 2.3% in the community…[and] roughly 90% of those with OCD have coexisting psychiatric diagnoses, most commonly are anxiety disorders.” To put that in perspective, that is between 5 and 8 million people currently struggling in the U.S. with OCD, with between 4.5 and 7.5 million people with OCD and comorbidities.
However, before better understanding the comorbidities of OCD, it is important to understand the disorder itself. This includes recognizing some of the warning signs to look out for.
A Brief Overview of OCD
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), “Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common, chronic, and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (“obsessions”) and/or behaviors (“compulsions”) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over.” These behaviors often overlap with other comorbidities, which is why a dual diagnosis and comorbidities can be missed.
Therefore, understanding the comorbidities of OCD can be crucial. This is especially true now that there is so much information online and on social media regarding issues of mental health, particularly OCD.
Understanding Comorbidities of OCD
It is becoming more and more common to hear about obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) these days. But, while it is certainly positive to have more light shone upon the disorder, it is not always accurate and can be more harmful than beneficial. This misinformation happens when people minimize OCD by mischaracterizing slightly skewed behaviors as a clinical diagnosis. For example, when people say “I have OCD – obsessive coffee disorder.” While it may not seem like much, little “jokes” like this are stigmatizing and can be hurtful.
This stigma also happens when OCD is misrepresented concerning substance use disorder (SUD) and other co-occurring disorders. This can take away from the real struggle that people diagnosed with OCD and comorbidities deal with. This is also why a broader and better understanding of the comorbidities of OCD can be so helpful.
Some of the Warning Signs of Comorbidities of OCD
While there are many variations when it comes to better understanding the comorbidities of OCD, there are some more common warning signs. These are just a few of those signs and symptoms:
- Excessive alcohol or substance use (sometimes justified as a coping mechanism for OCD)
- Engaging in out-of-character risky behaviors
- Showing signs of mania as well as depression (this may be a sign of a type of bipolar disorder)
- Remaining symptomatic after medication treatment or therapy
- Showing disordered eating behaviors or other process addiction behaviors, such as excessive gambling, online shopping, or social media use
When these warning signs pop up or symptoms remain after starting treatment, it may be time to get a second opinion on a diagnosis. Treating the comorbidities of OCD early and in tandem can be crucial for long-term recovery, free of relapses.