Diagnosing OCD

Diagnosing Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Although there will be no question asking you to describe the symptoms of OCD, it is important that you understand the nature of the disorder before we get into the etiologies or potential explanations for the disorder. You should know the affective, behavioural, cognitive, and physiological (somatic) symptoms of the disorder as well as the difficulties in obtaining a valid diagnosis.

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Key concepts

Arithmomania: a compulsion to count one's actions or objects in their surroundings. Sufferers may feel compelled to count the steps while climbing a flight of stairs or the number of letters in words. They often feel it is necessary to perform a behaviour a certain number of times to prevent catastrophes.

Compulsion: repetitious, purposeful physical or mental actions that the individual feels compelled to engage in

Comorbidity: when a person has more than one psychological disorder at the same time - e.g. anxiety and depression.

Neutralizing: voluntary, effortful, cognitive or behavioral acts designed to eliminate, prevent, or attenuate an obsessional thought or the discomfort associated with the thought.

Obsession: an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person's mind

Stigma: when someone sees you in a negative way because of your mental illness. Social stigma and discrimination can make mental health problems worse and stop a person from getting the help they need.

OCD and the DSM 5

Read through the following presentation.  At the end of the presentation, you should be able to explain the key symptoms of OCD and why it is often difficult to diagnose.

Living with OCD

The following video looks at the effects of having OCD.  After watching the video, reflect on the effects of the disorder on the individual and others around them.

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The global prevalence rate of OCD is

According to the WHO, the rate is 2%


Around 25% of OCD cases occur

The average age of onset is 19, with 25% of cases occurring by the age of 14.


Which of the following statements is true about OCD?

63% of people with OCD have suicidal thoughts. 26% attempt suicide. Research has shown that about 75% of people with Borderline personality disorder will make at least one suicide attempt in their lifetime, and many will make multiple suicide attempts


When a person living with OCD believes that their obsessive thoughts are true, the diagnosis is OCD with...

Patients with OCD with delusional beliefs usually have a poor prognosis than patients with good insight.


Neutralizing is the process of

Neutralizing is when an individual tries to ignore or suppress thoughts or urges with an action (compulsion).


Ruscio et al (2010) found that what factor made diagnosis of OCD difficult?

Ruscio et al (2010) found that only 2.9% of people with moderately severe symptoms sought treatment. They linked this to the stigma of the disorder.


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Continue to Biological explanations of OCD

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