Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Depression is characterized by the presence of obsessive (intrusive) thoughts and the performance of compulsive actions, generally with the aim of reducing the anguish brought on by obsessive thoughts. It is a disorder that can significantly affect people’s lives, damaging their well-being, careers, studies, and relationships, among others. In this blog, we’ll discuss does OCD cause depression.
OCD And Depression Can Be Comorbid
Although OCD is a diagnosis in and of itself, it rarely comes on its own. Although comorbidities seem to be exceptions, in the case of OCD, comorbidity with depression seems to be the rule. It is estimated that up to two-thirds of people who suffer from OCD also end up suffering from at least one depressive episode throughout their lives.
Comorbidity is a word that indicates the presence of two or more disorders simultaneously, and the interaction between them ends up having an influence on the symptoms of each. In other words, OCD symptoms can influence depressive symptoms and vice versa.
There are 2 major signs of obsessed man: obsessions and compulsions.
Depression and Obsession can be defined as thoughts, images, or impulses that occur involuntarily and are persistent, generally being seen as intrusive. They are generally unpleasant thoughts, capable of causing significant anguish in the individual.
Compulsions are actions, and repetitive behaviors that arise in response to an obsession. In general, these compulsive acts are an attempt to alleviate or neutralize the anguish and anxiety generated by obsessive thoughts.
Compulsions do not always have a direct connection with the obsessive thought itself, as in the case of a person who organizes objects symmetrically when having intrusive thoughts about the health and integrity of people they love.
In other cases, compulsive acts are directly related to obsession of the mind, as is the case with people who wash their hands too often because they have obsessive thoughts about disease-causing microorganisms.
Compulsions do not always present themselves as behaviors that can be observed by others. There are also mental compulsions, such as repeating words silently, counting objects or saying prayers over and over again.
It is worth mentioning that intrusive thoughts are a normal phenomenon, and most of the actions performed compulsively are normal ways of dealing with various issues in everyday life. The problem is that, in the case of OCD, these intrusive thoughts occur much more frequently, cause significant distress and lead to compulsive acts, which can become rituals so complex that they interfere with other day-to-day activities.
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Can OCD Cause Physical Symptoms?
Yes, OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) can cause physical symptoms. Such as,
- Muscle Tension: Intense anxiety from obsessive thoughts can lead to muscle tightness and discomfort.
- Headaches: The stress associated with OCD may contribute to frequent headaches.
- Stomachaches: Anxiety and distress can manifest as physical discomfort in the stomach area.
- Fatigue: The mental strain of dealing with obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors can result in tiredness.
Does OCD cause depression? Yes, it is one of the most important symptoms.
Symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder
Major depressive disorder is characterized by a depressed mood most of the day for a period of at least two weeks, accompanied by a decrease in interest and pleasure in everyday activities, even those that the person used to enjoy very much, such as hobbies.
During a depressive episode, a person may neglect their hygiene, diet, career, studies, and relationships, among other areas. There may also be an increase or decrease in appetite with consequent weight changes, changes in sleep patterns (insomnia or hypersomnia), fatigue, feelings of guilt, difficulties thinking, paying attention, and making decisions.
In more serious cases, recurring thoughts of death and suicide may arise, as well as suicidal ideation (making plans to take one’s own life) and suicide attempts.
It is worth noting that these symptoms are not limited to major depression and can appear in a number of other types of depression.
How Do These Disorders Influence Each Other?
Although depression OCD are different disorders, research shows that they seem to go hand in hand and can even worsen each other’s symptoms.
Not infrequently, it is estimated that depressive symptoms arise as a consequence of living with OCD, considering that the disorder can immensely impair functioning at work, studies, social life and other areas that help maintain a healthy life.
It is believed that OCD significantly impairs mood because the person spends more time involved in obsessive thoughts, performing compulsive rituals, and having to deal with feelings of anguish and anxiety very frequently. Because of this, there isn’t much time left for emotions considered positive, which in turn can lead to depressive symptoms.
However, it is worth highlighting that OCD does not always appear first. Sometimes it is depression that emerges and is diagnosed first, and then OCD symptoms appear. Therefore, not all cases of comorbid obsessive-compulsive disorder arise because OCD leads to depressive symptoms.
Research shows that some of the genetic components involved in OCD are also involved in major depressive disorder, which may help understand the link between the two disorders, even though one does not directly cause the other.
Regardless of which disorder manifests first, there is a consensus that comorbidity with depression tends to increase the severity of obsessive-compulsive disorder symptoms. Likewise, the presence of comorbidity makes the prognosis of OCD a little worse, with less chance of symptom remission.
What Causes OCD To Get Worse?
It is estimated that this worsening of OCD symptoms in people with depression occurs due to the following factors:
- Patients with depression may have less energy to resist compulsions;
- Cognitive symptoms of depression such as feelings of guilt, shame and catastrophic thinking can serve as a kind of fuel for obsessive thoughts;
- Worries, doubts and rumination are factors present in depressive episodes that can increase the levels of anguish and anxiety felt by the person with OCD, who may try to resolve these feelings through compulsive behaviors.
How to Live with Someone With OCD
- Understanding and Patience: Foster empathy by educating yourself about OCD and exercising patience.
- Open Communication: Encourage open dialogue to understand their triggers and challenges.
- Respect Boundaries: Respect their need for routines and avoid interfering with compulsive rituals.
- Offer Support: Provide emotional support without enabling obsessive behaviors.
- Encourage Professional Help: Suggest seeking professional guidance for effective management.
- Participate in Therapy: Attend therapy sessions together to enhance understanding and support.
- Avoid Judgment: Refrain from passing judgment and maintain a non-judgmental attitude.
Treatment of Comorbidity
Generally, when there is a comorbidity, it is important that both disorders are treated to obtain a better treatment result. However, when it comes to OCD with major depression, it is still debated how this treatment should be carried out.
While part of the community believes it is beneficial to intervene on depressive symptoms when treating obsessive-compulsive disorder, there are also those who expect a spontaneous improvement in depressive symptoms during treatment, even if the focus is only on OCD.
In any case, the medications used to treat depression and OCD tend to be the same or, at least, have a very similar effect and, therefore, it is understandable that, even when treating just one of the disorders, the other shows improvements simultaneously.
Different disorders can coexist and influence each other, as in the case of obsessive-compulsive disorder and major depressive disorder. If you identify with the symptoms reported in the text, do not hesitate to seek help from a mental health professional!
As we conclude does OCD cause depression, it’s evident – that OCD and depression often go hand in hand, creating a unique journey. Whether one triggers the other or teams up, the impact is deeply personal. Shared genetic factors play a role in shaping how these conditions unfold. Depression, with its mental weight, both follows and intensifies OCD. Predicting their course is complex, emphasizing the importance of understanding.
At Brainpower Wellness Institute, we’re here with insights and warm support for those dealing with OCD and depression. Because understanding is the key to healing.