What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

by baladmin | July 8, 2014

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder in which people have unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, ideas, sensations (obsessions), or behaviors that make them feel driven to do something (compulsions).

Famous People With OCD

Howie Mandel is known for his germ phobia and will go out of his way to avoid shaking a person’s hand. He also shaves his head because it is cleaner. Here’s the Deal: Don’t Touch Me is the humorous autobiography of Howie Mandel, in which he discusses his obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Despite the fact that Mandel says that these moments in his life, “It gets dark and there’s a lot of terror involved, but I can have fun with it, and I know it’s funny.” He also refers to the book as a “love letter” to his wife, who has been with him for 36 years, helping him cope with his condition

As with Howie, many people with OCD may be diagnosed with other conditions as well or including: obsessive–compulsive personality disorder, major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), generalized anxiety disorder, or social anxiety disorder.

Depression is Common Among Those with OCD

Depression is also extremely prevalent among those who suffer from OCD. One explanation for the high depression rate among OCD populations was posted by Mineka, Watson, and Clark (1998), who explained that people with OCD  may feel depressed because of an “out of control” type of feeling they have. In 2009 it was reported that depression among those with OCD is particularly alarming because their risk of suicide is high; more than 50 percent of patients experience suicidal tendencies, and 15 percent have attempted suicide.


People with OCD understand that their thinking does not correspond with reality; however, they feel that they must act as though their thoughts are correct. For example, a person who engages in compulsive hoarding might be inclined to treat inorganic matter as if it had the same rights of living organisms, and at the same time accepting that this behavior is irrational on a more intellectual level.

Addiction & OCD

There is some research demonstrating a link between drug addiction and OCD. For example there is a higher risk of drug addiction among those with any anxiety disorder. Addiction is used as a way of coping with the heightened levels of anxiety, but drug addiction among OCD patients can also be a type of compulsive behavior and not just a coping mechanism.

Addictions, similar to compulsions can offer relief from stress or anxiety but are characterized by an inability to discontinue the harmful behavior despite its negative consequences. Common addictions include unhealthy and repeated over use of alcohol, drug abuse or gambling. Addictions are easily formed to behaviors that provide physical or psychological pleasure or relief from pain.

When treating a dually diagnosed client that suffers from OCD and substance abuse, it is important to determine if the substance abuse is a repetitious habit (compulsive), or the substance is being used to subdue the associated anxiety.

Balboa Horizons is a top dual diagnosis treatment center located in Orange County, California. Please contact us today if you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse addiction. We are here for you! 1(866)316-4012