Changes in Mental Health and Mood
With much time and energy focused on ritualistic behaviors, mental health and moods may suffer. Individuals living with OCD may experience significant emotional distress, difficulty developing and maintaining relationships, difficulty attending school and work, and an overall poorer quality of life due to the time it takes to perform rituals.
According to the International OCD Foundation, one quarter to one half of people with OCD also meet diagnostic criteria for a major depressive episode. OCD steals time from relationships, hobbies, school or work, and general life activities. When coping with OCD and depression, it can be increasingly difficult for patients to find the courage to seek treatment.
According to a 2020 peer-reviewed article, about 90% of people with OCD will also have anxiety disorders, mood disorders, impulse disorders, substance use disorders or other psychiatric conditions. Persistent, distressing thoughts and urges from OCD cause nerves to rise. As a person fights to control their mind and actions, anxiety increases.
Physical and Behavioral Effects
Beyond the mental health effects, those with OCD are at risk for behavioral effects, such as substance abuse and loss of sleep. These can lead to troubled relationships and an overall lessened quality of life.
Risk of Substance Abuse
With OCD and substance use alike, a person frequently completes an action (compulsion or using a substance) to temporarily find release. Unfortunately, once the effects wear off, the desire to do the action again intensifies. In addition to the similarities between OCD and substance use, social isolation and mental health effects from OCD can lead to seeking an escape in the form of alcohol or drugs.
Exhaustion and Loss of Sleep
Physical harm can occur as a result of compulsions, including contact dermatitis, repetitive strain injury, physical exhaustion; or from self-soothing behaviors, including biting nails, picking skin or pulling hair. The obsessions and compulsions may make it difficult to fall asleep until all rituals are completed, causing a lack of sleep and further exhaustion.
Long-Term Impacts of Untreated OCD
If OCD is left untreated, triggers may increase and make life difficult to manage. Due to time spent avoiding these triggers, isolation from friends and family is increasingly likely.
Disruptive Avoidance of Triggers
Without therapy and/or medication, obsessive thoughts and compulsions can make it extremely difficult to concentrate. Hours spent on compulsions, or avoiding triggers, can lead to missing out on life’s joys with loved ones. People who struggle with OCD commonly avoid:
- Going outside
- Social gatherings or celebrations
- Seeing family and friends
- Work or school
Isolation From Friends and Family
With hours spent ruminating and acting to avoid fears, a person may become isolated from friends and family. To cope with this, compulsions to avoid further hurt or fear increase, taking up more time. Unfortunately, this can lead to sufferers feeling that they are alone.
At Pathlight Mood & Anxiety Center (Pathlight), our goal is to walk with patients every step of the way, so they know they are never on their own as they pursue recovery.
Get Treatment for OCD Today
Though the risks of OCD can be overwhelming, there is support and hope. Pathlight helps people find recovery and relief from their symptoms in treatment programs at every level of care.
Our OCD track is designed to support patients in managing their triggers and experiencing success. In addition to focusing on individual areas of struggle, patients will work on exposures during and between sessions with the support of master’s-level clinicians and their peer community.
With guidance from Pathlight's highly experienced team, patients learn and practice Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). These treatments help make gradual, systematic and sustained progress towards recovery from mood and anxiety concerns.
Learn More About OCD
What is OCD?
OCD requires the presentation of both uncontrollable, obsessive, recurrent thoughts (obsessions) and compulsive behaviors that must be repeated over and over again (compulsions). It’s important to remember that OCD can look different in different people, but beneficial treatment is available.
What are the Causes of OCD?
The causes of OCD are not entirely clear, but research suggests the following can be contributing factors: genetics, brain chemistry or abnormalities, and life events or external stressors.
What are the Health Risks of OCD?
When a person doesn’t know they have obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) or they don’t know about methods of managing it, there can be health risks, such as changes in mental and physical health.
OCD Treatment Options
Managing obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is possible with a combination of therapy and medication that ease complications of the disorder. Patients seeking help through Pathlight Mood & Anxiety Center can find relief in the Residential and Partial Hospitalization Programs.
OCD Facts and Statistics
Obsessive compulsive disorder affects an estimated 3 million people in the United States annually (nami.org). For more statistics on OCD and other mood disorders, please visit our facts and statistics page.
Do I have OCD? Take our OCD Test
If left untreated, OCD may become chronic and interfere with normal routines, schoolwork, employment and family or social activities. To identify if the symptoms you are experiencing might be OCD, answer a few short questions with our OCD quiz.