People with obsessive-compulsive and related disorders are plagued by relentless thoughts and/or repetitive behaviors that are disturbing and unpleasant. These are difficult to control and seriously disrupt the lives of patients.
What are Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders?
Obsessions are thoughts, ideas, impulses, or mental images that repeatedly enter patients’ minds. They are characteristically unwanted, yet patients struggle to suppress them.
Compulsions are physical or mental acts that the patient feels the need to perform. These can be intended to calm obsessive thoughts or done in line with certain, self-imposed rules.
Although Obessive-Compulsive Disorder is the most well known in this category, all of these disorders have either obsessions, compulsions, or both. People with Hoarding Disorder feel compelled to save possessions. Body Dysmorphic Disorder patients obsess over minor imperfections in their appearance and perform repetitive behaviors focused on trying to change their image. Trichotillomania and Excoriation Disorder are characterized by body-focused repetitive behaviors that people find difficult to stop and leave lasting, negative effects.
The psychiatric community has only recently started grouping these disorders together. Previously, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder was grouped with the Anxiety Disorders, and Trichotillomania and Excoriation Disorders were still under study. Although anxiety is a very frequent symptom in these disorders, they are separate from the anxiety disorders because the core of these disorders is the repetitive thoughts or behaviors.
Who gets Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders?
All of these disorders tend to start in late childhood and early adolescence. This is especially true for those disorders that have a focus on the body or appearance, most appropriate for this time of rapid physical and emotional change.
Anxiety and depression
Mood problems are the most common disorders that occur alongside obsessive-compulsive and related disorders. They appear in at least 50% of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder patients.
Although there have not been a significant amount of studies looking at all of the disorders in this category together, they do occur along side each other more frequently in relatives.