Can OCD Cause Death & Is It A Serious Mental Illness?

When a person suffers from some obsession or fear and inappropriate thoughts resulting in repetitive behavior, it is known as OCD or obsessive-compulsive disorder. It is a condition related to mental health. These compulsive and repetitive behaviors usually interfere with a person’s daily activities and cause a lot of trouble.(1)

The disease manifests itself in many ways and there are different types of OCD:

  • Double-check for everything
  • Fear of contamination
  • Hoarding, rumination
  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Too much orderliness and symmetry

These are not the only types of compulsion and obsession related to OCD, but they generally fall into these categories.

Can OCD Cause Death & Is It A Serious Mental Illness?

OCD is a common psychological condition that causes severe implications and deterioration in a person’s quality of life. The disorder can increase the risk of death in people suffering from OCD due to natural or unnatural reasons. The elevated risk of death is often due to the combination of anxiety or depression and substance abuse. However, family conditions may not further affect the mortality rate of OCD patients.

So, it is important to treat OCD seriously and treat the condition along with comorbidities and associated problems. Efforts to improve long-term outcomes such as the prevention of suicide and targeted treatment in people with OCD should be emphasized.(2)

What Are The Symptoms Of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

Typically, OCD begins when the person is in adolescence or in early adulthood. Symptoms usually start slowly and may vary throughout the person’s life. When the person is stressed, symptoms may worsen. OCD is a lifelong disorder and symptoms may range from mild to moderate or may be so severe that it can be life-threatening.

OCD includes both obsessive, as well as compulsive behavior. However, this may include only obsessive or only compulsive behaviors.

These are urges, thoughts or images that are persistent, repeated, intrusive or unwanted and cause anxiety or distress and the person tries to get rid of these by mandatory rituals or behaviors such as:

  • Need to keep things in symmetrical and orderly manners
  • Fear of dirt or contamination
  • Horrific or aggressive thoughts of harming others or themselves
  • Unwanted thoughts such as religious, sexual or offensive thoughts
  • Concern for contamination by touching things other people have touched.
  • Doubt if you’ve locked the stove, locked the door, etc.
  • Problems caused by sexual images that occur frequently in the mind.(3)

Symptoms Of Compulsive Behavior Are:

Compulsive behaviors are repetitive behaviors that reduce or prevent anxiety related to your passion or prevent something bad from happening. However, engaging in these compulsive behaviors does not make you happy, but only temporary relief from the feeling of anxiety.

Managing Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

  • Support a person suffering from OCD and try to boost their self-image, confidence, and self-esteem.
  • Set behavior rules and follow them. Try to maintain a normal family routine.
  • Be positive. OCD is a disease and not a person’s fault or part of their personality.
  • Be informed about various aspects of the disease so that it can be handled better.
  • Take definite action and get professional help if necessary.
  • Exercising regularly can help the brain manage fear and stress in a healthy way
  • Get plenty of sleep, because lack of sleep can increase the production of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol which worsen conditions like anxiety, OCD, etc.
  • Soaking in a hot bath, listening to soothing music and breathing slowly and deeply can help improve OCD symptoms.
  • Skipping food can cause blood sugar to fall and worsen stress and OCD-related anxiety and symptoms.(4)(5)

What Are The Things That Should Be Avoided In Managing Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Patients?

  • Do not accept or engage in the rituals and passions of the person because it will only spoil them.
  • Do not be persuaded by emotional blackmail, tears, or any other method used by any other method to support a person’s compulsion because it will only make them worse.
  • Do not be ashamed of the disease and get help and support.
  • OCD is very difficult to understand and handle. So, do not leave the person suffering from the disease and educate yourself so that you can handle it better.

References:  

  1. Brander G, Pérez-Vigil A, Larsson H, Mataix-Cols D. Systematic review of environmental risk factors for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: A proposed roadmap from association to causation. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. 2016;65:36-62.
  2. Meier SM, Mattheisen M, Mors O, Schendel DE, Mortensen PB, Plessen KJ. Mortality among persons with obsessive-compulsive disorder in Denmark. JAMA psychiatry. 2016;73(3):268-274.
  3. Burguiere E, Monteiro P, Mallet L, Feng G, Graybiel AM. Striatal circuits, habits, and implications for obsessive–compulsive disorder. Current opinion in neurobiology. 2015;30:59-65.
  4. McKay D, Sookman D, Neziroglu F, et al. Efficacy of cognitive-behavioral therapy for obsessive–compulsive disorder. Psychiatry research. 2015;225(3):236-246.
  5. Hirschtritt ME, Bloch MH, Mathews CA. Obsessive-compulsive disorder: advances in diagnosis and treatment. Jama. 2017;317(13):1358-1367.

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