Can OCD Cause Depression?

Can OCD Cause Depression?

Of the millions of people with obsessive-compulsive disorder, many are also diagnosed with depression. It’s a double whammy that many are challenged by, and a common question arises as to whether the first is caused by the second.

What is OCD?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is mostly known for patterns of unwelcome thoughts and fears (known as obsessions) that force you to perform repetitive behaviors (known as compulsions). Each of these – obsessions and compulsions – can interfere with daily life and lead to significant distress.

Trying to ignore or halt your obsessions isn’t a good idea, as that kind of strategy only boosts distress and anxiety levels. Eventually, you feel compelled to do compulsive acts as stress relief. They’re relentless, even with efforts to ignore or rid yourself of troublesome thoughts or urges. But more ritualistic behavior happens, reinforcing the dangerous cycle of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Symptoms may include:

  • Fear of pollution or dirt
  • Problems with uncertainty
  • Needing things arranged and symmetrical
  • Handwashing until the skin becomes red
  • Checking doors constantly to ensure they’re secured
  • Checking lights repeatedly to make sure they’re off
  • Counting in specific patterns

What is Depression?

Depression (sometimes referred to as clinical depression or major depressive disorder) is a widespread – affecting more than 17 million U.S. adults – but grave mood disorder. For someone with depression, it’s not uncommon for the most severe symptoms to affect how you feel, your thoughts, and how you deal with daily chores like sleeping, eating, or going to school or work. Diagnosis depends on the symptoms being present for two or more weeks.

Typical symptoms may include:

  • Sadness or experiencing a depressed mood
  • Lack of interest in something you once enjoyed
  • Changes in eating habits and weight loss or gain not linked to dieting
  • Problems with sleeping
  • Low energy or more fatigue
  • You do more purposeless physical actions (for example, you can’t sit still, your pace, or wring your hands constantly) or have slower movements or speech – all severe enough to be observed by someone else
  • You feel worthless or guilty
  • Problems thinking, focusing, or making decisions
  • Preoccupation with death or suicide

OCD and Depression

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is one of the most widespread psychological disorders and among the most individually distressing and potentially disabling. OCD can be chaotic for interpersonal relationships, restrict leisure activities and school or work obligations, and generally affect how satisfied you feel about your life. In many cases, OCD is often linked to depression.  

Yes, OCD is a depressing issue, and it’s plain to recognize how you could be diagnosed with clinical depression when daily life is filled with unwanted thoughts and urges to perform irrational and excessive behaviors.  Medicine and science tell us this to be true. Studies suggest that 25% to 50% of people with obsessive-compulsive disorder also fit within the diagnostic criteria for a major depressive episode. This includes continually low moods for a few weeks or longer, problems with once-enjoyable activities, self-isolation, having trouble with eating, sleep, intimacy, and more crying, hopelessness, and worthlessness.  

Most people diagnosed with OCD and depression report that their issues with OCD began before their depression symptoms, suggesting that depression happens due to the suffering and devastation linked to OCD.  Less frequently, depression and OCD start simultaneously – meaning that depression occurs right before the onset of OCD.

People with both conditions may be perplexed, which is understandable. What’s the importance of having depression and OCD together? As it turns out, severe depression significantly interferes with the power of the most successful treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder – different kinds of psychotherapy such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and, in some cases, ketamine therapy.

Diagnosis & Treatment

If you think you have OCD, depression, or another mental health issue, the first step in getting treatment is to see a healthcare provider for a diagnosis. Determining if you have either condition depends on a physical examination, a psychiatric assessment, and reviewing diagnostic criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Either examination aims to discover the cause for your symptoms – such as personal or family mental health issues, illness, a medical condition, thoughts, behavior, or feelings – and decide on different treatment options.

To treat OCD or depression, your healthcare provider will consider many factors which could affect the outcome and present the best course of action. Treatment may include different kinds of psychotherapy, antidepressants or other medicine, diet or lifestyle changes, or even ketamine therapy.