Prognosis of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

By  , Expert Content
Sep 03, 2012

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder which causes the affected person to experience incessant unnecessary thoughts, feelings, ideas, sensations (obsessions), or behaviours that make him or her compelled to do something (compulsions). If the person tries to avoid doing the obsessive rituals it can cause great anxiety. Performing the compelled task because of fixation or obsession helps  reduce anxiety.

Prognosis of obsessive compulsive disorder

Prognosis of OCD is good in most cases even though it is a long-term (chronic) illness. Most people experience periods of increase in severity of symptoms followed by times of improvement. However, most people do not experience a completely symptom-free period. Severity of OCD can vary from mild to severe. Most patients with OCD have mild to moderate symptoms which may interfere with their daily functioning and ability to function socially, occupationally, or educationally,but it is not disabling. However, in some cases the disorder can be quite disabling and can be classified as an example of severe and persistent mental illness.

Response to treatment

Treatment of OCD may not cure the disorder but it can help control symptoms so that they don't interfere with daily functioning. According to experts most people improve with treatment. Without treatment, the symptoms may increase and become more difficult to control. Research suggests that most people (about 70 per cent) with treatment experience a significant improvement in their symptoms although they may experience waxing and waning of symptoms throughout their life. The symptoms worsen gradually in about 15 per cent people and they may have deterioration in functioning over time even with treatment. Occasional patients may experience (about 5 per cent) complete remission of symptoms between episodes of exacerbation. Rarely some patients have may have disabling, treatment-resistant symptoms. They may require combination of treatment and may be neurosurgical intervention.

Some features which indicate that the OCD may be difficult to control with treatment include:

  • need to do the compulsive behaviour repeatedly to prevent or avoid anxiety
  • young age at onset of symptoms
  • history of hospitalisation for OCD
  • long duration before the disorder was diagnosed and treatment was started
  • men with onset of symptoms at a young age
  • other associated mental health disorders or personality disorder.

However OCD does not cause any long-term complications or does not progress to some other type of mental health disorder. It may cause problems because of certain obsessions or compulsions. For instance  repeated hand washing can cause skin breakdown.



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