Obsessive compulsive disorder is diagnosed based on medical and psychiatric histories, physical exam and medical and psychological tests and exams. The tests and exams can help to confirm the underlying cause of your symptoms and initiate treatment.
Medical history: The diagnosis and evaluation of OCD involves a detailed history of the person and interview of the family members. Some of the questions that the health professional may ask include:
Physical exam: The doctor will take the measurement of your height and weight; check other important parameters, such as heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure and temperature; listen to your heart and lungs and specifically note your behaviour and manners.
Laboratory tests: The doctor may recommend blood tests, such as complete blood count (CBC) along with other blood tests that may help to rule out other medical problems that can cause similar symptoms, screen for alcohol and drugs and if needed, do imaging studies, such as an MRI or CT scan to rule out some pathological lesion in the brain.
Psychological evaluation: If mental health disorder is suspected, your doctor will check your mental status by observing the appearance and behaviour and enquiring about your feelings, thoughts, moods and substance abuse. The detailed psychological evaluation will include questions regarding your symptoms, such as when the symptoms started, how severe they are, how much affect they have on your daily life and if you've had similar symptoms in the past.
Diagnostic criteria for obsessive-compulsive disorder: If OCD is suspected, you will be referred to mental health professionals (a psychologist or psychiatrist), who will carry out a more detailed assessment of your symptoms. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is diagnosed if the criteria specified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DSM-IV) are fulfilled. This is the standard manual used by mental health providers to diagnose mental conditions. It has been published by the American Psychiatric Association.
OCD is diagnosed if the following general criteria are met:
Obsessions must meet following criteria:
Compulsions must meet the following criteria:
Obsessive-compulsive disorder can be difficult to diagnose as similar symptoms can be observed in people with several mental health illness, such as generalised anxiety disorder, depression and schizophrenia.