OCD Signs, Symptoms & Effects

Understanding the signs, symptoms, and possible effects of co-occurring obsessive-compulsive disorder can be an important first step on the path toward improved health. Sierra by the Sea in Newport Beach, California, is proud to be a source of accurate and relevant information about the impact of co-occurring obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Understanding OCD

Learn about co-occurring obsessive-compulsive disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition that causes individuals to experience distressing thoughts that often lead to persistent behaviors. Individuals who are living with OCD suffer from obsessions, which are recurrent and intrusive urges or images. Obsessions are accompanied by mental or physical acts that an individual feels they must perform in response to their thoughts. These behaviors are called compulsions.

While there are some similarities between the symptoms of OCD and the symptoms of anxiety disorders, OCD causes individuals to demonstrate continual urges that may result in a fixation on certain behaviors. In contrast, anxiety disorders typically cause individuals to experience generalized worry and anxiety in response to many daily events.

Individuals who are living with OCD may face obsessions and compulsions that focus on any subject. However, there are common themes among individuals who are living with this condition, including cleaning, symmetry, harm, and forbidden thoughts of a sexual or religious nature.

Many individuals who struggle with OCD develop an addiction in trying to cope with the effects of this mental health condition. When a person is suffering from both an addiction and OCD, the mental health condition is referred to as a co-occurring disorder. Sierra by the Sea provides care to individuals who are suffering primarily from addiction, but who may also have co-occurring OCD.


Statistics about obsessive-compulsive disorder

The National Institute of Mental Health has recorded the following statistics about the presence of obsessive-compulsive disorder in the United States:

  • Approximately 1.2% of individuals were living with OCD in the past year.
  • Females (1.8%) are typically diagnosed with OCD more frequently than males (0.5%).
  • Across their lifetime, about 2.3% of adults will experience OCD.
  • Among all the adults who are living with OCD, about 50% are considered seriously impaired.

Causes & Risk Factors for OCD

Potential causes of obsessive-compulsive disorder

There are certain risk factors that increase the likelihood that an individual will suffer from symptoms of OCD. If an individual possesses one or more of these features, this does not guarantee that they will develop OCD. The following factors simply place an individual at a higher risk for experiencing OCD:

  • Frequently demonstrating negative emotions
  • Displaying fear and withdrawal in social situations
  • A childhood history of physical and/or sexual abuse
  • Recent viral infections or autoimmune syndromes
  • A family history of OCD

Signs & Symptoms of OCD

Symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder

Individuals who are living with OCD often display a variety of mental and behavioral symptoms. Each individual may exhibit different symptoms based on their circumstances and the severity of OCD, including:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Engaging in repetitive actions
  • Rigidly following rules
  • Spending an excessive amount of time on ritualistic behavior

Mental symptoms:

  • Engaging in repetitive mental acts
  • Attempting to ignore or suppress thoughts with certain actions or tasks
  • Having recurrent thoughts, urges, or images
  • Believing that their actions prevent negative events or situations

Effects of OCD

The negative impact of obsessive-compulsive disorder

If left untreated, OCD has the potential to negatively impact many aspects of a person’s life. An individual who does not seek professional care for OCD is at risk for experiencing many adverse effects, including:

  • Poor work attendance or performance
  • Legal problems due to behavioral concerns
  • Medical concerns related to skin picking or other repetitive actions
  • Homelessness
  • Impaired ability to establish or maintain relationships with friends and family


The adverse outcomes of co-occurring OCD have the potential to cause significant distress for an individual and their loved ones. However, these effects are not guaranteed, and many can be avoided if the individual seeks comprehensive care for co-occurring OCD and a substance use disorder. It is possible to achieve long-term recovery and experience an improved quality of life by managing this mental health condition.

Co-Occurring Disorders

Common co-occurring disorders among people who develop obsessive-compulsive disorder

Individuals who are suffering from OCD may also experience other mental health conditions. The presence of OCD may increase an individual’s risk for developing other mental health conditions. It is vital to receive all-inclusive care to fully address each condition that an individual is struggling with. Individuals who suffer from OCD may also be diagnosed with:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder
  • Tic disorder
  • Body dysmorphic disorder
  • Trichotillomania
  • Excoriation disorder
  • Oppositional defiant disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Eating disorders
  • Tourette’s syndrome

An individual who is struggling with the effects of co-occurring OCD and addiction should seek comprehensive services to assist in effectively managing these conditions. At Sierra by the Sea, each individual receives the personalized care and attention they need to begin their road to long-term recovery from co-occurring OCD.

Recovering from substance use disorders is a challenging journey that feels more doable in an environment that tends to each individual’s complex needs and strengths. Our goal is to foster a treatment experience that is built on compassion, hope, and caring, and fueled by excellence in the provision of evidence-based and trauma-informed care.

– - Anonymous