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Is OCD A Mood Disorder?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder and mood disorder are two different diagnoses. Mood disorder is a mental health condition that involves a severe change in people’s moods and energy levels. OCD, on the other hand, refers to a mental illness that involves having obsessive thoughts that drive people with the condition to act compulsively. There are differences in how the brain functions for each diagnosis.

How Mood Disorders and OCD are Different 

To understand the differences between these two diagnoses, we’ll explore what they are, their symptoms, their causes, and how they can be treated.

What is OCD?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a mental health condition that causes people to have constant unwanted ideas or thoughts (obsession) that make them exhibit recurring behavior (compulsion) that’s hard to stop. These thoughts tend to be strongly associated with or instigate feelings of anxiety. In turn, the actions or rituals that develop are an effort to quell the anxiety. As these anxieties recur, people with OCD become obsessed with these thoughts and this results in irresistible actions that provide less and less relief from anxiety.

OCD Symptoms

There are two elements of OCD symptoms; obsessive thoughts and compulsive behavior. 

Obsessive Thoughts

Nearly everyone experiences unwanted thoughts sometimes, like thinking you forgot your phone in the room while it’s actually in your pockets or a sudden threatening mental image.

If you start experiencing this repeatedly, however, and it starts affecting your normal thought process, it might be an OCD symptom.

Some obsessive thoughts people with OCD might have are:

  • Fear of hurting someone you know
  • Fear of inflicting harm on yourself
  • Recurring offensive thoughts like sexual thoughts
  • Fear of contracting a disease
  • Fear of imperfection or disorganization

Compulsive Behaviors

When continuous, unusual, and disturbing thoughts interrupt someone’s daily life, making them anxious and stressed, people develop elaborate behaviors to either avoid or dispel these intense negative feelings.  

These behaviors often become excessive and disconnected from the obsessions. These behaviors become compulsive when someone realizes their actions are illogical, yet they still feel they have to do it because they believe it will relieve their stress. 

For instance, someone who fears harming themselves may have the habit of checking their pockets constantly to be sure they’re not carrying any dangerous weapon. 

Some common behaviors exhibited by people with OCD are:

  • Washing of hands or bathing excessively
  • Constant fact-checking
  • Excessive rearranging of things in a specific manner
  • Checking door locks and switches repeatedly
  • Excessive cleaning of household items
  • Hoarding items

Causes of OCD

Researchers are not sure what causes OCD. There are some factors, however, that might play a part, which are:

  • Genetics. OCD may have a genetic component and can be inherited
  • Trauma. A person who is traumatized may develop OCD
  • Brain activities. An imbalance of chemicals, especially serotonin in the brain, may be a factor

What is a Mood Disorder?

A mood disorder is a mental illness that involves intense sadness, happiness, anger, or irritation. It is a mental condition that affects your emotional state and general well-being.

Mood Disorders Symptoms 

There are several types of mood disorders such as bipolar disorder, depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, disruptive mood dysphoric disorder, etc. Their symptoms may vary according to the conditions. 

However, there are some general symptoms common to people with mood disorders. Some of them are:

  • Lack of enthusiasm or energy
  • Sleeping troubles or insomnia
  • Feeling irritated and agitated
  • Rapid thinking
  • Feeling uncommonly elated
  • Acting recklessly, like doing something hurtful or overly risky
  • Speaking or moving abruptly

What are the causes of mood disorders?

According to researchers, various factors could cause mood disorders such as genetics, biological or environmental factors. 

Here’s a general overview of what could contribute to mood disorders:

  • Heredity
  • Traumatic experiences like parent loss
  • Amygdala (part of the brain responsible for controlling emotions) enlargement.
  • Recurring stress
  • Illness such as diabetes, CAD, etc

How Can OCD and Mood Disorders be Treated?

OCD and mood disorders can both be treated with psychotherapy or antidepressants. 

Medications. Antidepressants like SSRIs are medicines that help improve OCD symptoms by increasing the serotonin level in the brain. If your OCD or mood disorder is mild, antidepressants might be the best for you.

Psychotherapy is a therapy that involves facing your mood disorders or obsessions head-on. It is usually a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). It involves talking with your therapist to analyze your problems and help you tackle them.

Final Thoughts

OCD and mood disorders are quite similar because they both affect the brain. OCD is not a mood disorder because unwanted thoughts or compulsive behaviors in OCD patients are not related to their moods. 

Both illnesses can impair one’s lifestyle by taking a toll on physical and mental well-being. Ketamine therapy, however, can help relieve the symptoms rapidly and help the patients gain control of their lives in no time.

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