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Despite evidence-based treatments for OCD, a study has shown the long-term effects of adult patients suffering from OCD  do not enjoy remission. Here’s what you need to know

The study was conducted over a 10-20 year period in the 80s and 90s. The sample size initially included 165 eligible subjects, and data from 83 people were studied to formulate the findings. The results of the study found that 20% of patients experienced a degree of remission vis-a-vis their OCD symptoms, while 49% continued to experience significant clinical OCD symptoms. Despite various evidence-based treatments for OCD, the study’s conclusion found that the majority of adult OCD patients do not enjoy remission. 

What are the long-term effects of living with untreated OCD?

The studies took place between 1986- 1995 at the Yale OCD Research Clinic. Participants were given one of three serotonin reuptake inhibitor medications for eight weeks, including clomipramine, fluoxetine, and fluvoxamine. Over the next 10-20 years, follow-ups were conducted with these patients and their associated Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder symptoms. Only 83 of the 165 eligible subjects agreed to participate in the follow-up studies. This begs the question: What are the long-term effects of living with untreated Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

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What Does OCD Really Look like?

Distinctions have to be drawn between Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder on the one hand, and meticulousness, neatness, and an orderly way of doing things on the other. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental illness that is far more complicated than simply having a predisposition towards rules-based paradigms, fixed structure, and/or cleanliness.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is an anxiety disorder

Given that this is an anxiety disorder, it is fair to say that Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder sufferers are often on edge and constantly worried about minutia. These anxieties and compulsions diminish the quality of life and detract from the day-to-day enjoyment of routine activities.

An estimated 2.3% of adults in the US suffer from OCD, according to the National Institutes of Health. With OCD, concerns relate to an array of topics, notably pervasive, unwanted, and recurring thoughts, and the attendant actions to try and allay those concerns. With OCD, patients understand that their concerns are irrational, yet they persist in thought processes and compulsions regardless. It’s a vicious cycle. Sufferers complain of no satisfaction, despite the actions performed to try and relieve the obsessive thoughts. People with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder tend to berate themselves and lament intrusive thoughts.

For a great many sufferers, obvious signs of OCD may not compel patients to seek help. Many feel that their symptoms don’t require treatment, but that is a cardinal error. Such is the severity of clinical OCD, that it will impede your ability to succeed at school, at work, and in your relationships with people. If left untreated, it can also result in physical and emotional abuse of the patient. Various forms of treatment have emerged over the years, notably Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), Deep TMS, therapy, and medication. 

OCD treatment centers are conveniently located in communities all over the country, with professionals standing by and ready to assist patients. Whether it’s SSRIs, SNRIs, mental health counseling, surgical procedures, or non-surgical Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder treatments, many facilities are now available. Among the most effective options are treatments using TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation). This pain-free approach to treating Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder uses magnetic waves to target neural activity in problem areas of the brain. A specialized helmet with coils is used, and after 4-6 weeks of 20-40 minute sessions, patients generally report favorably on this treatment regimen.

What Physical Effects Can OCD Have On Your Life?

The disorder begins with pervasive and unrelenting thought processes which then manifest in compulsive actions to try and calm those thoughts. Unfortunately, this unfolds in a downward spiral, with no end in sight.

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  • Relationship stress
  • Terminating pregnancies because of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Self-medicating with alcohol and stimulants
  • Physical damage due to  compulsions
  • The financial burden of the disorder on yourself and your loved ones

It is worth emphasizing that there is a large treatment gap with OCD. This is a reference to the proportion of OCD sufferers who require treatment but don’t receive treatment. It can be said unequivocally that people with OCD do have a diminished quality of life across the board, relative to people that don’t have OCD and compared to people who have schizophrenia. However, people with OCD fare much better than people with major depressive disorder (MDD).


Problems with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder do not generally resolve easily. While many young people suffering from OCD can enjoy significant improvement over time, this is not necessarily the case with adults suffering from the disorder. Treatment is required, and the best method of treatment will vary from one individual to the next.

Our thoughts never let up, and our actions are continually performed in a futile attempt at bringing closure to the issues at hand. One of the problems with OCD is that it is not grounded in logic. 

Understanding the long run

People with this mental health disorder understand that these are irrational thoughts. If you lock your door and go out, your rational mind should accept what you have done, without further worry. However, with OCD, you may find yourself locking and unlocking the door multiple times to try and assuage your concern that the door is not locked. No matter how many times you perform this ritual, your mind still sews the seeds of doubt.

Much the same is true of germs, cleanliness, personal hygiene, and the like. Somebody who has a phobia of germs may not want anyone in their personal space, especially not in their home. If by some chance, somebody sneezes around a person like this, this triggers an OCD overload of thoughts related to sanitizing everything over and over again. 

This includes obsessive hand washing and any number of additional cleanliness routines. The mere fact that somebody sneezed is enough to send the OCD into overdrive. On the surface, it may not appear that hand washing is detrimental to your health, even if you do it multiple times. However, depending on the soaps and chemicals that are used, excessive hand washing will result in raw hands with the potential for infection.

People with OCD may believe that the disorder is easier to deal with if you self-medicate. Folks with phobias or deep-seated OCD symptoms may believe that it is better to administer sedatives, anti-anxiety medication, or alcohol to control intrusive thoughts. Unfortunately, drug and alcohol dependencies often result, and this can have disastrous ramifications for the individual, well beyond the effects of  Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

Impacts of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder According to OCD

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Who Is The Author?


Sarah Sidney 

Sarah Sidney is 32 years old and lives in England. Creative and smart content creator with almost 7 years of experience in Lifestyle content.  Always striving for an excellent job and being a great leader. 

Sarah Sidney

Sarah Sidney

Sarah Sidney is 32 years old and lives in England. She is a creative and smart content creator with almost 7 years of experience in Lifestyle content.  Sarah is always striving for excellence at work and aspires to being a great leader


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