OCD and Depression: Are They Connected?

Depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are both mental disorders. Major characteristics of mental conditions include significant disruptions of a person’s cognition and emotional and behavioral stability. Both depression and OCD incapacitate a person mentally, socially, and occupationally. However, the two are quite different.

It is common to have both depression and OCD at the same time. According to an International OCD Foundation research, 25 to 50% of people with OCD can get depression. OCD symptoms usually precede depression, but a minimal percentage get the two disorders concurrently. It is unusual for depression to precede OCD. In this article, let’s learn more about these disorders and how they are linked.

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OCD and Depression: A Brief Overview

Although depression and OCD are categorized as different mental disorders, they also have a strong correlation. This fact sparks the interest of mental health experts and psychologists. To understand the concept better, let’s delve into the specifics of each.

Depression is a mood disorder characterized by negative emotions that persist for at least 14 days or more. These negative and depressive feelings include a sense of hopelessness, worthlessness, guilt, anxiety, sadness, lethargy, and eating and sleeping problems. A depressed person may also have suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts.

OCD has two components, obsessive thoughts, and compulsive behaviors. This disorder causes repetitive and unwanted thoughts. The intrusive thoughts may cause anxiety and make a person feel helpless and unable to control their mind.

As a reaction to the intrusive thoughts, a person with OCD usually does particular actions with an irrational belief the behavior will stop the distressful thoughts. The person also assumes that repetitive action and relentless perfectionism can prevent a terrible occurrence.

Can OCD Cause Depression?

OCD’s intrusive thoughts, compulsive actions, and behaviors increase negative emotions in a person and can lead to clinical depression. The same OCD Foundation research asserts that depression is part of OCD, but OCD is not necessarily part of depression. Hence, it’s prudent to say OCD can cause depression.

Similarities of Depression and OCD

In addition to depression and OCD being mental disorders, they share many other similarities. For example, they:

  • Are caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Both may result from an imbalance in the neurochemical levels like serotonin, a brain neurotransmitter that regulates memory, mood, and digestion.
  • Are associated with negative cognitive processes and irrational self-beliefs.
  • Are disruptive and distressful. They hamper a person’s social, and professional life.
  • Negatively impact a person’s cognitive, emotional, and behavioral processes.
  • Are acquired by nature or nurture. They are genetically or environmentally acquired. Genetics and environmental factors play a significant role in their development.
  • Can be treated with medication, therapy, or by developing coping mechanisms.

Differences Between Depression and OCD

Although depression and OCD have a strong correlation, they significantly differ. Some differences include the following:

  • The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5) classifies depression as a mood disorder, and OCD is a separate disorder.
  • OCD is distinguished by its two main components, obsessive thoughts and compulsive, repetitive actions, while depression does not portray any repetitive physical reactions or symptoms.
  • OCD can lead to depression, whereas it is unusual for depression to cause OCD.

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Depression and OCD Treatment and Management

It is common for most people to ignore the symptoms of mental disorders, which exacerbate the illness. Others may seek ineffective ritualistic self-treatment. However, ignoring the mental problem and failing to seek professional help increases anxiety and distress.

OCD and Depression Treatments Include:

  • Use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), other types of antidepressants, and other effective medication for OCD and depression to treat serotonin disruption and chemical imbalance. SSRIs, including paroxetine (Paxil), fluoxetine (Prozac), fluvoxamine (Luvox), and sertraline (Zoloft) are FDA-approved and most commonly prescribed medications for OCD treatment.
  • Non-medical treatment includes therapeutic approaches such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), talk therapy, behavioral therapy, and cognitive therapy, among others.
  • Brain stimulation with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), and deep brain stimulation (DBS) is reserved for severe cases of depression and OCD.
  • Learning coping mechanisms that include relaxation exercises, good self-care, and a system of self-support tips.

For effective treatment, some of the above options can be used together. For instance, prescribed medication and therapy.

So, are OCD and Depression Related?

Indeed, OCD and depression are related since these two mental disorders have more similarities than differences. Then they have the same treatment methods. Moreover, OCD itself can lead to the development of depression. Whichever symptoms of any of the two disorders you notice, it is essential to seek medical help as soon as you can. Contact EZCare Clinic today to see a doctor online and receive effective treatment.


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Evidence Based

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in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.