Obsessive Compulsive Disorder- Assessment and Diagnosis
How do I know I have to see a psychiatrist for assessment?
Many people may have symptoms of OCD and do not seek help if it doesn’t affect their quality of life or interfere with their day to day functioning. You should consult your psychiatrist if your thoughts and symptoms are distressing and affecting your work, studies, mood or sleep. You should also be vigilant about your mental state and consult the psychiatrist if you are feeling very low and suicidal along with distressing symptoms.
I think I may have OCD. What should I do?
If you think you have OCD and require a detailed assessment and treatment for this you must consult a psychiatrist. Unfortunately, people resort to searching the internet for assessment and symptoms. This is often misleading and will be a source of anxiety. If you think you have OCD you must consult a psychiatrist.
Can I self-diagnose OCD?
There are certain self-rating scales for OCD. But this has to be advised and given by the psychiatrist. You should never self-diagnose any condition even if you are a doctor yourself. You must avoid searching the internet for your symptoms or tools for self-diagnosis. You must seek help from a psychiatrist and explain only the symptoms rather than suggesting you have this and that. The reason is that psychiatrists have extensive training in teasing out various symptoms and conditions and will be able to differentiate between various mental health conditions and give you a proper diagnosis.
How do I know if I have anxiety, depression or OCD?
Typically, anxiety may present with worries about the present and future which as excessive and out of proportion to the issues facing. Depression presents with ruminations (similar to a cow chewing cud). Thoughts keep circulating in the mind and are usually negative in nature. OCD thoughts are repetitive and intrusive and cannot be resisted. It can cause anxiety on resisting. You may sometimes have a combination of several mental health conditions along with OCD. It is best to let a psychiatrist diagnose your condition.
How does a psychiatrist assess for OCD?
A psychiatrist would assess you in the clinic for 45 minutes to an hour. Diagnosis will be based on a combination of diagnostic questionnaires which will diagnose OCD based on scores obtained, reports may be requested from your family or colleagues if you consent. Several questions will be asked pertaining to your symptoms to differentiate it from other types of mental health symptoms. Sometimes you may be diagnosed with more than one mental health condition. You may be also requested to take some blood tests and other tests if required. This will be to rule out medical conditions and also in order to start and monitor medications.
What criteria does the psychiatrist use for diagnosing OCD?
Psychiatrists commonly use criteria from either the ICD 10 or DSM 5 which are classificatory systems in order to diagnose OCD. They use criteria such as requirement of an obsession or compulsion to be present for at least 2 weeks and on most days. Obsessions are described as thoughts that originate in the mind, unpleasant and repetitive. It causes the person distress to carry out the thought and unsuccessfully tries to resist them. It is also required for the symptoms to cause interference with functioning.
Are there tests available for OCD diagnosis?
Some diagnostic questionnaires are available to score for OCD
symptoms, diagnose and keep track of the treatment etc. These questionnaires will cover all aspects of obsessions, types and compulsions. They are used in conjunction with clinical assessment to diagnose OCD.
What questions will I be asked at the assessment?
Questions will be asked about your symptoms, duration and nature. Questions will be asked to ascertain if these are in fact obsessions and compulsions. Additional questions will be asked about other symptoms to rule out other mental illnesses.
Questions on Family history, medical problems, alcohol intake, past psychiatric issues and developmental issues are asked about.
Why does the doctor want to know about my medical problems?
Medical problems such as infections, thyroid problems are asked about to make sure that the symptoms are not as a result of the medical condition. Other medical problems are asked about in order to initiate and maintain medications.
Why is the doctor asking me about my development?
OCD can occur in certain type of intellectual disabilities. Presence of stress, trauma in childhood are also asked about. It is also important to understand one’s social life and academic performance as a child, any behaviour problems as a child.
Why is the doctor asking me about my family history of OCD?
Psychiatrists ask about a detailed family history of OCD and other
mental health conditions as there is evidence that people are
predisposed to OCD genetically.
Do I need blood tests?
Your psychiatrist may order blood tests to rule out thyroid and other problems. Additionally, general health including liver and renal functions will be assessed in order to initiate medications.
Do I need a scan?
You will not always need to take a scan. However, if your psychiatrist feels it is essential to take a scan you will be advised to do so and inform them of the reports.
Can other conditions be confused with OCD?
Some conditions can be confused with OCD and need to be differentiated as that will determine the right treatment. Anxiety disorders, depression and psychosis can also be confused with OCD.
Will the doctor diagnose any other co morbid conditions and treat as well?
If there are symptoms indicative of other mental health condition then further questions will be asked and appropriate diagnosis and treatment given by the psychiatrist.
Is OCD my fault?
OCD is not your fault and you must not blame yourself or let anyone blame you like that. OCD is a mental health condition that occurs due to variety of factors and is not your fault that you suffer OCD.
Is a person with OCD dangerous?
A person with OCD is typically NOT dangerous. Even though a person may have aggressive thoughts as obsessions, the person will find the thought unpleasant and tries to resist the thought.
I feel worried about visiting the doctor. What do I do?
It is normal to be anxious when discussing distressing symptoms with the doctor. It may be useful to write down what you wanted to discuss as people may forget what they wanted to say in times of anxiety.
Should I get treated for OCD?
If you have mild and manageable OCD, your doctor may advise only COGNITIVE BEHAVIOUR THERAPY which is a talk therapy. However, if symptoms are interfering with your life, then medications will be advised.
What will happen if I don’t get treated for OCD?
If you let your OCD go untreated, it may get worse over time. Sometimes it may interfere with work, functioning and quality of life so much so that some people may be severely restricted and housebound. Hence it is essential to get timely help.
Can I help my own OCD?
It is useful to do a technique called MINDFULNESS and “accept “the thoughts mindfully without attaching emotions to it. Relaxation and mindful breathing will help. You can work through CBT techniques at home by yourself and get help from your psychiatrist who will guide you accordingly.