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A new research study suggests people with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are at a higher risk for developing schizophrenia. According to the International OCD Foundation, about 2-3 million adults in the United States are currently living with OCD. Approximately 3.5 million people in America have schizophrenia according to statistical information from the Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America. Both diseases are very common, but how many individuals have issues with comorbidity is currently unknown.
What is obsessive-compulsive disorder?
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a condition involving the brain and behavior patterns. People with OCD will go through severe anxiety and many other emotions.
The obsessive part of OCD involves thought, impulses and images that happen over and over again. The compulsive part of OCD involves repetitive behaviors a person does to make their obsession go away.
What is schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a severe and often disabling disorder of the brain that has affected many people. People with schizophrenia often hear voices that only they can hear. Sometimes a schizophrenic may believe people are reading their mind, plotting to hurt them or controlling their thoughts. People with schizophrenia can often become catatonic and sit for hours without moving or saying anything. Treatment can help control the symptoms of the disorder, but there is no cure for it.
Is there a genetic link between OCD and schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia and OCD are equally diagnosed among men and women, with both disorders showing up at about the time adolescence ends. Many people who are diagnosed with OCD and schizophrenia have reported their OCD showed up first. Each condition is thought to be due to a serotonin malfunction, but a genetic link between schizophrenia and OCD has not yet been established.
What is the difference between delusions and obsession?
It can be very hard to explore the relationship between schizophrenia and OCD, because the symptoms of these two conditions can overlap. Delusions are a common part of schizophrenia. With delusions, a person will have false thoughts or beliefs which they believe to be true in spite of strong evidence to the contrary.
It can be very hard for people with OCD to see their obsessions are not in fact reality. Research is ongoing to determine how to best differentiate between obsessions and delusions.
How is OCD treated?
It can be very difficult to treat OCD, because some people spend years hiding their symptoms out of fear. The first line of treating OCD and related disorders is to remove the stigma and then to provide appropriate therapies and in some cases medications. With proper treatment and therapeutic care, people with OCD can learn to manage the symptoms of their condition and have a better quality of life.