Healthwise: OCD can run in families, is often misdiagnosed

“I’m so OCD.” How many times have you heard someone say this? Perhaps they were describing a personality trait such as perfectionism, neatness, or the strong desire for order. Talk to someone with OCD, and they may tell you something otherwise.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, more commonly known as OCD, is an anxiety disorder. It is said to affect 1 in 100 people. The person living with OCD has little control over intrusive and unwanted thoughts. These intrusive and unwanted thoughts can then lead to actions or compulsions.

For instance, “I am afraid to hug my mother because if I hug my mother, I could catch a fatal disease and die. I will not hug my mother, and I will not visit my mother because if I do, I might die.”

The overpowering fear of catching a fatal disease has prevented the person living with OCD of a vital relationship.

Or, “I want to go for a walk. But, if I move forward, I need to stop and check the ground. I cannot move forward without stopping and checking the ground.”

Going for a simple walk becomes torturous. To someone not living with OCD, these scenarios might seem like a joke, or something easily controlled thanks to mind over matter. For the individual struggling with OCD, this is no laughing matter.

Some people grapple with unwanted sexual thoughts, others struggle with self-harm or injurious thoughts. Recent studies have suggested that people living with OCD are 10 times more likely to die by suicide than those who are not living with the condition.

How does the person living with OCD differ from the person living a seemingly normal life? According to some research, those with OCD might have differences in the brains and genes than those unbothered by the condition.

OCD can begin as early as 8 years old, and can run in families. Treatment for the disorder can include medication, cognitive therapy, behavioral and alternative therapy.

Currently the study team at Coastal Connecticut Research in New London is conducting a clinical trial evaluating an investigational add-on medication designed to boost current treatments for people living with OCD who are taking either an SSRI or clomipramine. Some individuals might be living with these intrusive thoughts and actions, and are living undiagnosed or untreated.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is a complex anxiety disorder which manifests itself differently among those who suffer from it. Ideally, we can continue to make inroads in regards to providing a better quality of life to those individuals whose lives are seemingly in a holding pattern thanks to the condition.

If you wish to learn more about current nationwide OCD research, contact Coastal Connecticut Research at (860)443-4567 or email Visit to learn more.

MaryLou Gannotti is the Director of Public Relations and Communications at Coastal Connecticut Research in New London where she oversees community outreach.