OCD and Depression

Let me preface this by saying that I am not clinically depressed and I don’t want to minimize the struggle of those who have depression.  I know what a difficult battle it is and I know it’s so much more than just being sad.  It can be debilitating.

As if OCD weren’t difficult enough to deal with on its own, people with OCD often have comorbid disorders.  This means that there are other mental disorders (like depression, other anxiety disorders and eating disorders) that frequently co-exist with OCD.  Fighting OCD seems so impossible sometimes.  Adding more to that makes the monster seem even bigger.

I can completely see why OCD and depression seem to get along so well.  Seriously.  Anything that can make as big a mess of a person’s life as OCD would naturally be depression’s best friend.  Some days I feel like I could very easily let myself slip into depression, especially if I start thinking about what my future will look like if I can’t beat OCD.  Some days depression sits right outside my door and like a predator, tries to charm and seduce its way into my life.  Some days it is almost irresistible.  Some days I almost open the door.  Some days I think it would be easier than fighting.

I know it wouldn’t be easier, though.  It would make everything more difficult.  It would make an even bigger mess.  It would allow OCD full control.  So I keep the door closed, hoping that I never give in and open the door.

Do any of you OCDers suffer from depression?  How do you cope?  How does that change treatment (if you’re in treatment, that is)?

Here’s more information about OCD and comorbid disorders and OCD and depression.

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13 thoughts on “OCD and Depression

  1. If you have one mental illness, you’re very likely to have more. Joy, eh? I’ve also noticed that symptoms overlap even if the disorders are completely different. I have a friend with Aspergers who totally gets my social anxiety. I’m not diagnosed with OCD (knock wood), but I do have major depression combined with PTSD, GAD, Panic Disorder, and Social Anxiety. All those labels have a bottom line. I struggle to deal with life every day. As for treatment, so far a veritable army of successive doctors over a lifetime have not found the magic formula. Here’s hoping they do, or even better, maybe I’ll figure it out myself.

    1. I think I need to write a post soon that is about comorbid disorders in general, especially the ones I have. I have been diagnosed with GAD. I’m pretty positive I also have dermatillomania and maybe mild social anxiety.

  2. I really think that I suffered from clinical depression as a kid – probably as a result of all the fear and anxiety associated with my undiagnosed OCD and the additional social anxiety it caused. People sometimes talk about how “nice it was to be a kid” and all that, but I have always looked back at the bumpy, bumpy road of growing up and thought, “thank God I don’t live with that sort of anxiety or sadness anymore!” I think part of it is that when you are a kid, you are still figuring out how the world works. It’s hard to navigate already sometimes, and when you have a lot of anxiety (and social anxiety about that anxiety on top of that!) it is hard to realize that there IS help and that it is OKAY to get it and talk about all the crazy things going on in your head. Sometimes I wish I could go back to the child version of me and just say, “You know what – it will be alright! You may feel terrible now but life gets better!” Even though my relapse this past year has probably been the most debilitating over all, I still sometimes look back and think that, at least emotionally, it was so much worse as a kid. Back then I was anxious and didn’t feel like there was anyone I could talk to. Now I know that there is a whole world of individuals like me who suffered from similar fears as kids and still battle with OCD as adults. And though there still is a stigma, a certain aura of shame around mental illness, I am far less ashamed now than I was then. Dealing with that sense of isolation and shame as a kid, in addition to the OCD in and of itself, was probably the perfect storm of factors for fueling depression.

  3. My husband and I have both been diagnosed with multiple disorders.

    He has OCD and has battled depression. Usually it’s mild and passes in a few days. Sometimes it’s serious. At those times it has to be front and center. Overcoming anything else will not happen when depression has a person pinned to the floor.

    Depression has been a huge part of my life, as it was my mother’s. Not opening that door is so difficult. Depression and I have this deep connection — like a boyfriend you can’t really give up just because you know he’s bad for you. You’re too much a part of each other.

    All I can do is keep fighting. Congratulations on keeping that door closed! That’s huge.

  4. I am actually being treated more for depression and anxiety than I am the OCD. I am always trying some new drug, it seems, because I don’t like the side effects of any of the ones I have tried, and I have tried a lot! Keeping my anxiety level down helps my OCD tremendously, of course. I also skin pick, if that is considered a comorbid disorder.

  5. I’ve dealt with depression a few times. Not really deep, and definitely due to my OCD symptoms worsening. Both times I took medication for a month or two. It worked almost immediately on the depression, and then I could get back to working on the OCD.

  6. My OCD first appeared in late childhood, when it was at its worst – and I eventually suppressed it, but through shame and self-disgust. I still have it today, although it’s minor and I approach it with a better frame of mind.

    I was diagnosed with moderate depression in mid-2007, and late last year it went major, when my medication was increased (currently two Prozac capsules a day).

    I suspect, though – as have others over the years – that I have suffered from depression for most of my life, which didn’t help with my childhood OCD (that was a particularly anguished time).

    There’s also life-long insomnia, making it a three-ring circus.

    Fortunately, being on medication and in therapy since mid-2007 have been two of the best things I’ve ever done. The Prozac has smoothed away the rough edges, making me much more calm, and changing how I think about myself and the world has had an enormous positive impact. My sleep is still highly erratic, but thankfully my employer is a big believer in work-life balance (I can work from home and nap during the day, and work late at night).

    There are still some days when the black dog gnaws or bites hard, but when that happens I stay calm, try to relax and live in the moment until it goes away. It works.

  7. I have been suffering from OCD since i was 6 and i have also been diagnosed as clinically depressed fore 4 years
    I now how hard it is to get out of this hole.
    like you there are some days when it seemed that I could tackle this problem and even try’d a false of deny my self the patterns which my OCD had manifested as but sadly this did not work only lasting 3 days instead causing my stress to pile up I ended having a fit/brake down in class.
    I was unshore about taking medication as I hade encountered bullying when I was younger but I came to my senses at Christmas last year and have been taking it ever since I am amazed at the out come something like OCD or depression can not be cured by meds but they can help
    I am on a form of ante-depression witch takes the edge of my stress causing a chain reaction making my OCD seem more manageable when talking to a counselor also there is a form of therapy called cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) witch is one of the best forms of tackling OCD.

    1. Yeah, when I was going to therapy, we did cognitive behavior therapy. I haven’t been to therapy in awhile, but I still try to do the exposure response prevention on my own. It has worked really well for me. I’m glad it has worked for you, too!

  8. I’ve come across this page bc my fiancé struggles with major depressive disorder, GAD, and OCD. He has crashed 2 times in 3yrs, causing us to postpone our wedding twice. It affects EVERYTHING. he recently was hospitalized but is home now bc he want improving. He does have good moments & even hours, but everyone he had an risks episode he panics & it’s very hard to know what to do. I guess I’m asking for advice from people who suffer our have suffered from these illnesses.
    Thank u. And God bless

    1. I wish I had some advice to give you, something that would really help. The best I can offer is to find a support group. I thought support groups were a huge waste of time until I went to one. Connecting with people on here has been awesome, but it was a different experience to connect with people in person. See if there’s anything like that in your area. The OCD Foundation (http://www.ocfoundation.org/) has a listing of support groups.

  9. This blog has been inspirational. I have had a hard time finding people that I can connect with. I know that I have struggled with depression for at least 15 years +, but I think I am starting to realize that it is linked with OCD. I had alot of bullying issues in school growing up and had issues with fitting in, especially in high school. The saddest part is that I haven’t had as strong of a support system through my family, but it has been more with friends. I have been married for about 5 years now, but my condition has deeply affected my relationship. To top it off, I have alot of issues with jobs and holding them down. I haven’t worked since last August and I recently had a miscarriage this past January. We’re putting off having a family now until I can get a better hold on things. I’ve been in and out of therapy for years. Life is tough and I guess we just have to take it day by day. It is just comforting to know that others are out there. Some days I’m not even sure if I can make it and dark thoughts circulate in my mind, but there has to be a light at the end of the tunnel. This condition can’t take over my life, debilitate me, and my goals anymore. It is too exhausting. I’m just trying to stay hopeful. Hang in there guys!

    1. Thank you for sharing. Knowing we’re not alone does go a long way in coping. Feeling isolated only makes it worse. So please keep reaching out to others, whether it’s here or in a support group or wherever. Stay connected. I hope it gets easier for you soon!

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