Complications of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Millions of people are impacted by a health condition called obsessive compulsive disorder or OCD.  OCD is a very complicated and challenging mental illness that can present itself in a number of different ways.  The symptoms of OCD can begin in early childhood and will likely continue as you age.  It could be something that will plague you for the rest of your life if it is left untreated.  Even with proper treatment, it is possible that some of the complex symptoms will never subside.

Some of the complications that can arise as a result of living with OCD can include:

Substance Abuse

It is somewhat common for people with OCD to also have a problem with substance abuse.  Often, you or the person you love who has OCD will begin using drugs or alcohol as a way self-medicate and alleviate some of your OCD symptoms.  However, what starts out as self-medicating can quickly turn to substance abuse and addiction.  The two most common substances of abuse used by people with OCD are alcohol and benzodiazepines.  Benzodiazepines are meant to reduce the symptoms of anxiety.

Reduced Productivity

Getting things done while fighting OCD can be very difficult.  Low productivity can have an effect on all areas of your life particularly when it comes to work or school performance.  Much of your time is likely being spent on compulsive rituals or fighting with yourself over unwanted thoughts and urges.  It can be exhausting and, ultimately, you may not have enough time to get done all of the other things that you need to in a day.  The responsibilities of your everyday life can quickly take a backseat to your compulsions.

Work or School Difficulties

As mentioned above, OCD compulsions can be exhausting and time consuming.  And getting fired from a job is pretty easy if your employer thinks that you are not accomplishing all that you should be in a day.  The same is true for being a student.  Teachers will rarely believe that you did not do your homework because you had to turn on and off all of the light switches in your house 12 times each before you could do anything else.  Also, it is difficult to be productive at work or at school when your obsessive thoughts and the anxiety that go with them are impossible to put aside.

Physical Difficulties

Certain types of compulsive behaviors can cause physical difficulties.  This is especially true for people who have compulsions toward cleaning or washing behaviors.  Taking many showers in a day or constantly scrubbing your skin can lead to skin irritation, delayed healing, and excessive skin dryness.  It can also lead to skin disorders such as contact dermatitis from soap and other cleansers.  Some of these items can lead to permanent scarring.


Most people who suffer from OCD have experienced shame or humiliation in relation to their OCD.  The reactions of others can be harmful and degrading to anyone who has experienced snickering, whispers, or outright discrimination because of their obsessive and compulsive tendencies.  This shame can go straight to the heart of an OCD sufferer leading to feelings of despair and worthlessness.


The shameful feelings and distressing treatment that an OCD sufferer often experiences can lead to depression.  Living all day every day with such a challenging and exhausting condition can cause you to lose hope.  Life can be extremely difficult for people with OCD, and this makes them more inclined to be depressed.

The list of complications involved with OCD can look like it is impossible to overcome, but with the proper treatment, many of these complications can be relieved.  OCD treatment typically involves cognitive behavior therapy as it has proven to be one of the most effective methods of treatment available.  Cognitive behavior therapy is meant to make progress in changing maladaptive behaviors or irrational thoughts that are the basis for OCD compulsions and obsessions.  Medication is sometimes used in addition to therapy and has been very effective in some people.

It will take time and commitment for you or someone you love to be able to overcome OCD.  With proper treatment and hard work, it can be possible to handle the troubling compulsions and obsessions that are currently keeping you from the life that you would like that have and move on to the life you would like to live.