Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
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How Is OCD Diagnosed?
Diagnosis of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) can be tricky, given that the disorder can sometimes appear similar to other physical or mental disorders, and it may be coincident with other disorders in the same patient. Proper diagnosis requires physical and psychiatric assessments, as well as observation and evaluation of current symptoms.
In general, a mental health professional will first determine if the patient is experiencing obsessive thoughts if the obsessive thoughts are coincident with compulsive behaviors and if the combination of obsessions and compulsions are interfering with the patient’s typical daily functioning. If these criteria are met, there is a reason to suspect that OCD is present.
Further diagnostic steps may include:
- A physical exam. This exam will be aimed at ruling out physical conditions that could be causing the symptoms.
- Blood tests. These tests will look at the patient’s blood chemistry for issues such as thyroid function. Screenings for drugs and alcohol may also be conducted to rule out symptoms that may be caused by substance abuse.
- Psychological assessments. These assessments may take the form of questionnaires or talk sessions with a mental health professional to assess the patient’s mood, mental state, and mental health history. Family members or caregivers may also be asked to participate in these assessments.
The results of the psychological assessments will be compared to the diagnostic criteria for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Comparison to these criteria will help a psychiatrist to decide whether the symptoms indicate OCD or another psychiatric problem (such as obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, anxiety disorders, depression, and schizophrenia) whose symptoms sometimes look similar to those of OCD.
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