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Is OCD An Anxiety Disorder? Here’s The link

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Obsessive-compulsive disorder OCD and anxiety are two different mental health illnesses that share certain origins and treatments but differ in their symptoms. OCD and anxiety can coexist in the same person. Continue reading to learn more about the link between these two conditions.

By We Level Up FL Treatment Center | Editor Yamilla Francese | Clinically Reviewed By Lauren Barry, LMFT, MCAP, QS, Director of Quality Assurance | Editorial Policy | Research Policy | Last Updated: January 18, 2023

Difference Between Anxiety and Depression – Is OCD An Anxiety Disorder?

Anxiety and depression difference: The fact that one term denotes a single sickness while the other denotes a collection of ailments is a significant distinction between anxiety and depression.

In reality, depression is one illness. There are numerous distinct symptoms (see below). And different people may experience it very differently. However, the term “depression” only refers to one illness.

The word “anxiety” can indicate a number of different things. We all experience anxiety occasionally, and the word “anxiety” can be used to describe that feeling simply. However, when we use the word anxiety in a medical context, it actually refers to anxiety disorder.

Some less frequent conditions are included under anxiety. These include panic disorders and phobias. However, generalized anxiety disorder is the most prevalent (GAD). In the US, a generalized anxiety disorder may affect four to five out of every 100 persons. In this post, we’ll concentrate on generalized anxiety.

What is Anxiety Disorder?

According to The National Institute on Mental Health, periodic anxiety is a standard component of life. When faced with a challenge at work, before a test, or before making a crucial decision, you could experience anxiety. However, anxiety disorders involve more than just passing apprehension or terror.

Anxiety and depression difference: It’s critical to get anxiety treatment as soon as possible since, for someone with an anxiety condition, the anxiety does not go away and can worsen over time. The symptoms might affect daily tasks like work performance, academic progress, and interpersonal connections. Generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and various phobia-related disorders are only a few of the several types of anxiety disorders.

Anxiety and depression difference: People with a generalized Anxiety disorder (GAD) display excessive Anxiety or worry, most days for at least 6 months, about many things such as personal health, work, social interactions, and everyday routine life circumstances. Fear and Anxiety can cause significant problems in areas of their life, such as social interactions, school, and work. 

What is Depression?

Depression (also known as Major Depressive Illness or Clinical Depression) is a common but significant mood disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. It produces severe symptoms that interfere with your ability to function on a daily basis, including sleeping, eating, and working. The signs of depression must last for at least two weeks before a diagnosis may be made.

Depression treatment is required when depressive symptoms are chronic and do not go away since some types of depression are slightly different or may arise in unusual situations.

OCD and anxiety are two different mental health illnesses that share certain origins and treatments but differ in their symptoms. OCD and anxiety can coexist in the same person.
OCD and anxiety are two different mental health illnesses that share certain origins and treatments but differ in their symptoms. OCD and anxiety can coexist in the same person.

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Types of Depression

  • Persistent depressive disorder (also called dysthymia): is a depressed mood that lasts for at least two years. A person diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder may have episodes of major Depression along with periods of less severe symptoms, but symptoms must last for two years to be considered a persistent depressive disorder.
  • Psychotic Depression: occurs when a person has severe depression plus some form of psychosis, such as having disturbing false fixed beliefs (delusions) or hearing or seeing upsetting things that others cannot hear or see (hallucinations). The psychotic symptoms typically have a depressive “theme,” such as delusions of guilt, poverty, or illness.
  • Bipolar disorder: is different from Depression, but it is included in this list because someone with bipolar disorder experiences episodes of extremely low moods that meet the criteria for major Depression (called “Bipolar Depression”). But a person with bipolar disorder also experiences extreme high – euphoric or irritable – moods called “mania” or a less severe form called “hypomania.”
  • Postpartum Depression: is much more serious than the “baby blues” (relatively mild depressive and anxiety symptoms that typically clear within two weeks after delivery) that many women experience after giving birth. Women with postpartum Depression experience full-blown major Depression during pregnancy or after delivery (postpartum depression). The feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion that accompany postpartum depression may make it difficult for these new mothers to complete daily care activities for themselves and/or their babies.
  • Seasonal affective disorder: is characterized by the onset of Depression during the winter months, when there is less natural sunlight. This Depression generally lifts during spring and summer. Winter Depression, typically accompanied by social withdrawal, increased sleep, and weight gain, predictably returns every year in seasonal affective disorder.
  • SAD Seasonal Depression (Depressed SAD): A form of depression known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is triggered by the changing of the seasons; it starts and ends about at the same periods each year. If you have SAD like the majority of people do, your symptoms begin in the fall and last through the winter, draining your energy and making you cranky. Typically, these symptoms go away in the spring and summer. SAD less frequently results in depression in the spring or early summer and clears up in the fall or winter. SAD treatment options include medications, psychotherapy, and light therapy (phototherapy).

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Anxiety Fact Sheet

Anxiety Overview

A mental health condition marked by intense feelings of worry, anxiety, or fear that interferes with daily activities. Panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder are a few examples of anxiety disorders.
The inability to put aside worry, restlessness and stress that is out of proportion to the severity of the incident are among the symptoms.
Counseling or medicine, including antidepressants, are used as forms of treatment.


Anxiety Symptoms

Behavioral: hypervigilance, irritability, or restlessness.

Cognitive: lack of concentration, racing thoughts, or unwanted thoughts.

Whole body: fatigue or sweating

Also common:  anxiety, excessive worry, angor animi, fear, insomnia, nausea, palpitations, or trembling

Anxiety Treatment

  • Support group: A place where those pursuing the same disease or objective, such as weight loss or depression, can receive counseling and exchange experiences.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: A conversation treatment that aimed to change the negative attitudes, actions, and feelings connected to psychiatric discomfort.
  • Counseling psychology: A subfield of psychology that handles issues with the self that are connected to work, school, family, and social life.
  • Anger management: To reduce destructive emotional outbursts, practice mindfulness, coping skills, and trigger avoidance.
  • Psychoeducation: Mental health education that also helps individuals feel supported, validated, and empowered
  • Family therapy: psychological counseling that improves family communication and conflict resolution.

Anxiety Statistics

It’s critical to understand the distinction between anxiety and depression. Anxiety, in its most basic form, is an excessive feeling of worry, whereas depression, in its most basic form, is an excessive feeling of worthlessness and hopelessness. It is conceivable for someone to experience depression and anxiety simultaneously.


6.8 million

GAD affects 6.8 million adults or 3.1% of the U.S. population, yet only 43.2% are receiving treatment.

Source: National Institute on Mental Health

19 million

19 million adults experience specific phobias, making it the most common anxiety disorder in America.  

Source: ADAA2020

17.3 million

Major depressive disorder affects approximately 17.3 million American adults or about 7.1% of the U.S. population aged 18 and older.

Source: National Institute of Mental Health


OCD And Anxiety: OCD And Anxiety Treatment Center

Generalized anxiety disorder and depression can both have emotional and physical symptoms.
Generalized anxiety disorder and depression can both have emotional and physical symptoms.

OCD or anxiety: Obsessive-compulsive disorder OCD and anxiety are two different mental health illnesses that share certain origins and treatments but differ in their symptoms. OCD and anxiety can coexist in the same person.

OCD is not an anxiety illness, although people who have it frequently have intrusive thoughts that can be stressful and interfere with daily life.

People may engage in rituals or repetitive acts, and if they are unable to finish them, they may get more worried. Washing, cleaning, checking, sorting, and arranging objects are typical actions.

Difference Between Ocd And Anxiety

OCD and anxiety have different mental health disorders, although their causes and treatments can overlap. Despite being one of the most common mental health diseases in the general population, anxiety is underdiagnosed, according to the authors of the current 2022 anxiety overview.

The disorder is undertreated, according to a 2022 overview of OCD.

In addition to discussing whether a person can have both OCD and anxiety, this article also examines the relationship between the two and offers details on the signs, causes, and treatments of OCD.

OCD Vs Anxiety: Anxiety OCD

Anxiety and OCD can coexist, OCD is an anxiety disorder. They are distinct mental health issues, though. OCD is categorized as an anxiety disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR).

OCD is categorized as a separate mental health disorder under the Disorder Class “Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders” in the most recent edition, the DSM-5-TR. In addition, there are descriptions of body dysmorphic disorder, hoarding disorder, and trichotillomania in this section.

Separate from OCD, a variety of anxiety disorders exist, including the following:

Do I Have Ocd Or Anxiety? OCD Anxiety Disorder: Anxiety Vs OCD

According to a 2022 review of anxiety, it is a “future-oriented” mood state, which means people with anxiety disorders frequently engage in psychological and behavioral preparation for potential threats in the future.

Persons with OCD are more impacted by recurring ideas, pictures, or behavioral urges that make them anxious, even if people with OCD and anxiety might experience strong terror about specific circumstances or objects.

They will routinely carry out routines like handwashing or placing orders in response to these persistent urges or ideas. Compulsions may be difficult for an OCD sufferer to resist, and they may not even be enjoyable for them. Usually, people with anxiety problems won’t feel the urge to engage in these compulsions.

OCD Health Anxiety CausesHealth Anxiety Ocd

OCD has no known etiology as of yet. However, the following are listed as potential causes by the British mental health charity Mind:

  • Personal experiences: Children who experienced trauma, abuse, or bullying as children or who had parents or caregivers who exhibited similar compulsive tendencies may develop OCD as a taught behavior.
  • Personality traits: Children who experienced trauma, abuse, or bullying as children or who had parents or caregivers who exhibited similar compulsive tendencies may develop OCD as a taught behavior.
  • Genetics: There is some evidence that people can inherit OCD from their parents. Studies do, however, frequently have limitations. Overall, more study is required.

The causes of anxiety are diverse and may include:

  • Past experiences: Anxiety can be brought on by stressful situations such as abuse, violence, a protracted sickness, and the loss of a loved one. Anxiety can also be brought on by adolescent or childhood experiences with challenging circumstances. This can involve racial discrimination, social exclusion, bullying, and neglect.
  • Stress: Long-term stress can lead to anxiety. This can be due to stress from a job or school, problems with money or housing, or being in the midst of a huge shift or uncertain phase.
  • Health conditions: Anxiety might arise from having major and persistent health issues. Anxiety might also be brought on by other mental health issues.
  • Medication side effects: Anxiety may be listed as a side effect of some medications, particularly psychiatric drugs.
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Anxiety Or OCD? OCD Anxiety Symptoms

The symptoms of OCD include a combination of obsessions and compulsions.

Obsessions include:

  • Recurring intrusive and distressing thoughts urges, and images a person cannot control
  • The urge to stop intrusive thoughts, urges, and images with another thought or action

Compulsions include:

  • Responding to obsessions with repetitive behavior or mental patterns
  • Performing repetitive behaviors or mental patterns to reduce anxiety or prevent a perceived threat or negative consequence

Compulsions might not necessarily be directly related to the undesirable outcome a person is attempting to avoid, and the behavior might appear excessive to others. They can consume a lot of time from an individual.

Fears of contamination, aggressiveness, damage, sex, religion, and maintaining their surroundings exactly as they want it are common sources of compulsions. One compulsive activity is all that is required for a diagnosis. Compulsive behaviors include, for instance:

  • Repeatedly checking things, such as ensuring their door is locked
  • Frequent, excessive handwashing
  • Counting or tapping objects
  • Engaging in rituals such as prayer or repeating specific phrases

2019 and 2022 research state that OCD and anxiety can put a person at higher risk of suicide.

OCD Anxiety And Depression (OCD Anxiety Depression)

OCD and anxiety disorders share the same primary symptom in that they are both anxiety-based conditions. However, how do OCD or anxiety connect to depression?

Someone with OCD or anxiety may experience hopelessness, sadness, or an inability to enjoy life—all signs of depression. This is one very obvious connection between both these anxiety-centric groups and depression. As a result, long-term exposure to either of these diseases may eventually lead to the development of depression.

Second, members of all three disorder families frequently co-occur. As a result, there is a high level of comorbidity between depression, anxiety, and OCD, and the likelihood of having two or more of these simultaneously is much higher than by chance. Comorbidity, unfortunately, reduces the likelihood of a symptom-free recovery as compared to those battling single disorders, which is bad news for people dealing with multiple of these conditions at once.

The link between these three illnesses also appears to be influenced by genetics. The link appears to be neuroticism, a personality trait that generates acute, unfavorable responses to both internal and external stimuli, leading to emotions such as grief, guilt, and rage. Researchers studying this trait have proposed that neuroticism serves as a mediator between anxiety, depression, and OCD because it has been demonstrated to be both highly heritable and a risk factor for these disorders.

Finally, brain architecture also seems to be involved in the co-development of depression, OCD, and anxiety. Particularly, it has been demonstrated that the emergence of these three illnesses is related to the amygdala and its function in emotion processing. This is especially true with regard to classical conditioning, which can link a physical or psychological reaction (such as sweating or a feeling of worry) to a particular stimulus (the presence of a dog) after a bond is established connecting the two to each other (a traumatic event such as being bitten by a dog).

Indeed, it has been demonstrated that injury to the amygdala alters how we interpret dangerous stimuli and emotions of delight, which can cause the emergence of depressive, anxious, and OCD-related symptoms.

OCD And Social Anxiety: OCD Social Anxiety

Obsessive-compulsive disorder and social anxiety disorder are chronic diseases that may have crippling effects. There are two distinct diagnoses here.

Though it is conceivable for OCD and social anxiety symptoms to coexist. You would then have to contend with two different conditions. In fact, research reveals that the most common co-occurring condition for those with OCD is a social anxiety disorder. But it’s also feasible for someone with OCD to have persistent obsessions about social rejection without being diagnosed with social anxiety.

You would need to satisfy the diagnostic requirements for both conditions in order to be given both diagnoses. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, a guidebook utilized by the majority of U.S. mental health professionals, establishes the diagnostic criteria.

OCD Anxiety Disorders: Can a Person Have Both?

OCD and an anxiety disorder are both possible in certain persons. For instance, 33.56% of the 867 individuals in a study from 2021 had both OCD and GAD. According to this study, those who have OCD or GAD are more prone to exhibit the following signs:

  • Severe anxiety
  • Avoidant behavior
  • Panic disorder
  • Social phobias
  • Specific phobias
  • Type II bipolar disorder

A person with OCD and GAD will typically have OCD symptoms and anxiety symptoms, such as:

  • Chronic anxiety with no identifiable cause
  • Feeling physically anxious
  • Muscle tension
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling irritable due to anxiety

A person may also suffer from anxiety illnesses like social anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A patient should consult a physician to talk about their symptoms and determine whether they might be suffering from OCD, an anxiety illness, or both.

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Treatment For OCD And Anxiety: The OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center

OCD And Anxiety Treatment

CBT center for anxiety and OCD: According to the International OCD Foundation, CBT and medication are the best ways to treat OCD. CBT techniques include exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy.

According to a 2019 study, ERP is the primary treatment for OCD. According to the authors, up to 50% of individuals with ERP, whether they are taking medicine alone or in conjunction with it, will notice a considerable improvement in their symptoms. It does not, however, apply to everyone.

In ERP, a patient collaborates with a mental health professional to talk about their compulsions, the worries or anxieties that could cause them, and the connections between the two. A person may also express their anxiety about what might occur if they don’t engage in their obsessive habits.

You could experience anxiety about commonplace occurrences like commuting to work or even going to sleep.
Anxiety disorder OCD: You could experience anxiety about commonplace occurrences like commuting to work or even going to sleep.

Then, a person will rank various circumstances in order of least to most stressful. With the help of the clinician, they will then face similar circumstances and attempt to refrain from doing their rituals or obsessive behaviors. This is accomplished both in actual situations and through imaginative preparation.

The purpose of ERP is to teach a person that participating in the activities or tasks that discomfort them and abstaining from their obsessive behaviors won’t have the negative effects they dread.

Best Medication For Anxiety And OCD: Medication For OCD And Anxiety

Certain psychiatric medications can help control the obsessions and compulsions of OCD. Most commonly, antidepressants are tried first.

Antidepressants approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat OCD include:

  • Clomipramine (Anafranil) for adults and children 10 years and older
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac) for adults and children 7 years and older
  • Fluvoxamine for adults and children 8 years and older
  • Paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva) for adults only
  • Sertraline (Zoloft) for adults and children 6 years and older

However, your doctor may prescribe other antidepressants and psychiatric medications.

Best Medication For OCD And Anxiety: What to consider

Discuss the following points with your doctor when choosing an OCD medication:

  • Best Medicine For Anxiety And OCD: Selecting a treatment. Generally speaking, the objective is to minimize dosage while still efficiently controlling symptoms. It’s common to try a number of medications before settling on one that works well. To successfully treat your symptoms, your doctor may suggest taking many medications. After using a drug for a while, symptoms may not start to get better for weeks or even months.
  • Best Medicine For OCD And Anxiety: Adverse consequences. All psychiatric drugs may cause negative effects. When using psychiatric medications, discuss any potential side effects and the need for health monitoring with your doctor. Also, let your doctor know if any unsettling side symptoms occur.
  • Best Meds For Anxiety And OCD: Suicide danger. Although the FDA mandates that all antidepressants include black box warnings, the toughest cautions for prescriptions, the majority of antidepressants are largely safe. In certain situations, taking antidepressants can lead to an increase in suicidal thoughts or actions in children, teenagers, and young people under the age of 25, particularly in the first few weeks or when the dose is altered. If you have suicidal thoughts, call your doctor right away or seek emergency assistance. Remember that antidepressants are more likely to decrease the risk of suicide over time through elevating mood.
  • Anxiety OCD Medication: Interactions between different chemicals. Inform your doctor if you take any other prescription or OTC drugs, herbal supplements, or other dietary supplements while taking an antidepressant. When coupled with specific drugs or herbal supplements, some antidepressants can reduce the efficacy of other medications and have potentially harmful side effects.
  • Medications For OCD And Anxiety: Stopping antidepressants. Although physical dependence—a separate condition from addiction—can occasionally happen with antidepressants, they are not thought to be addictive. Therefore, suddenly ceasing medication or skipping several doses might result in discontinuation syndrome, which is also known as withdrawal-like symptoms. Even if you feel better, don’t stop taking your medicine without first consulting your doctor. Otherwise, you risk experiencing a resurgence of OCD symptoms. To safely and gradually reduce your dosage, consult your doctor.

CBD For Anxiety And OCD

A 2019 review found that, despite the fact that the field of study is very young, the evidence so far suggests that cannabinoids can help OCD sufferers with symptoms like worry, dread, and some repetitive behaviors. The authors urge more investigation into CBD’s potential as an alternate OCD treatment.

CBD Gummies For Anxiety And OCD

These gummies are designed to promote relaxation and reduce tension and anxiety, which may be helpful for those who have OCD. Each serving contains 10 mg of full-spectrum hemp extract, which also contains the plant’s other terpenes and cannabinoids.

CBD Oil For Anxiety And OCD

OCD cannot be cured at this time, however, there are medications that can help with the symptoms. Some OCD sufferers receive relief from drugs like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). CBT may also be advantageous for others (CBT).

Additionally, some OCD sufferers claim that taking CBD oil reduces their symptoms. A cannabinoid, or substance found in cannabis plants, is what CBD is. CBD does not have the same intoxicating effects as marijuana’s THC. This implies that you won’t get high from it.

Trintellix For Anxiety And OCD

OCD and anxiety are not currently approved conditions to be treated with Trintellix (OCD). However, Trintellix may be used to address these issues off-label. (Use of a drug for a condition for which it has not been approved is known as utilizing it off-label.)

Best SSRI For OCD And Anxiety

Medicine for OCD and anxiety: An SSRI known as paroxetine (Paxil) is used to treat OCD as well as depression, panic disorder, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It can be taken once daily and is approved for those who are at least 18 years old.

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We Level Up Dual Diagnosis Treatment The OCD And Anxiety Treatment Center

Anxiety and OCD center: The definition of dual diagnosis (also referred to as co-occurring disorders) can differ between institutions. However, it is generally described as the specific treatment of someone who has been diagnosed with a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder at the same time. Treating dual-diagnosis clients is a critical aspect of our inpatient treatment experience because co-occurring disorders are strongly correlated with instances of substance abuse.

Anxiety and OCD treatment center: Creating a treatment plan that addresses the physical aspects of withdrawal, the psychological connection with drug use, and managing underlying mental health disorders is part of setting clients up for success.  A thorough mental health analysis identifies possibilities for treatment.  Meeting with mental health counselors and medical care providers means access to behavioral therapy and medication treatment. At our dual diagnosis treatment center, We Level Up can implement the highest quality of care. 

Center for OCD and anxiety: We recognize the fragile complexities of how mental and substance abuse disorders can influence others and sometimes result in a vicious cycle of addiction.  That’s why we offer specialized treatment in dual-diagnosis cases to provide the most excellent chance of true healing and long-lasting recovery.

The OCD and anxiety center: It can be challenging to accept that you may be living with a mental illness, but once it is properly diagnosed and treated, treating the presenting case of substance abuse can be magnitudes easier. Only a properly trained medical professional can diagnose these underlying conditions.  If you believe you are suffering from a disorder alongside addiction, we urge you to seek a qualified treatment center to begin your journey to recovery. Call We Level Up today.

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Anxiety and OCD FAQs

  1. Is OCD A Form Of Anxiety? Is OCD Anxiety Disorder?

    Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, OCD, is an anxiety disorder and is characterized by recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and/or repetitive behaviors (compulsions).

  2. Can Anxiety Cause OCD?

    Recognizing the emotion that triggers worsened obsessions or compulsions is the first step in treating OCD. An individual can learn to detect when they are nervous and employ coping mechanisms for the anxiety as anxiety can quickly result in an OCD episode.

  3. Can You Develop OCD From Anxiety?

    According to Dr. Allende, the first stage in treating OCD is to identify the emotion that triggers obsessive or compulsive behaviors that get worse. An individual can learn to recognize when they are nervous and employ coping mechanisms for the anxiety as anxiety can quickly progress to an OCD episode.

  4. Why Was OCD Removed From Anxiety Disorders?

    OCD was reclassified by the American Psychiatric Association as a distinct illness in 2013. This is due to the fact that each of these illnesses has distinctive abnormalities in the chemistry and function of the brain. There are some commonalities between OCD and anxiety treatments, however, there may also be significant differences or inconsistencies.

  5. Does Ocd Cause Anxiety?

    Obsessions with OCD are intrusive, recurrent, unwelcome thoughts, desires, or visions that are distressing or anxious.

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