Mysterious connection: Early mortality tied to OCD, causes raise eyebrows

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ocd-linked-to-early-mortality(NaturalHealth365)  Obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, is a well-known mental health issue that can affect both children and adults.  The condition can be debilitating as many people are trapped in a prison in their minds, which evokes fear and anxiety.

Earlier studies have found that people with OCD have a higher mortality rate than people who do not have the disorder – 82% more likely.  A new study examines the causes of death in people with OCD.  Some of the results were unexpected.  While the mortality rate is considerably higher, the causes of death don’t show any type of pattern.

Layers of obsession, from recurring thoughts to repetitive behaviors

OCD is a mental health disorder that affects 1.2% of adults in the United States every year.  It tends to be a long-lasting disorder, but an estimated 2.3% of people with OCD have it for life.  Impairment from the symptoms can range from mild to severe, with around 50% of people with the disorder experiencing serious impairment.  People with moderate impairment make up around 35% of people with OCD, and mild impairment is around 15%.

Symptoms of OCD fall into one of three categories:

  • Obsessive: recurring, uncontrollable thoughts
  • Compulsive: repetitive behaviors
  • Obsessive-compulsive: both recurring, uncontrollable thoughts and repetitive behaviors

Fear and aggression are often at the core of the behaviors such as a fear of contamination or germs.

Researchers explore causes of elevated death rates in OCD patients

Lorena Fernandez de la Cruz and her team at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden spearheaded research aimed at interpreting the causes, both natural and unnatural, contributing to the increased mortality rates observed in individuals with OCD.

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Leveraging the comprehensive Swedish population registers, the researchers selected 61,378 individuals diagnosed with OCD and 613,780 without the condition.  This extensive study, spanning 40 years from 1973 to 2020, delves into the long-term impact of OCD on mortality, shedding light on critical insights.

Startling trends and factors impact life expectancy

During the study, 4,787 individuals with OCD and 30,619 without passed away.  People with the condition had a higher risk of overall mortality, including both natural and unnatural causes, compared to those without.  The risk of death from natural causes was increased in the OCD group.

The causes of death included:

  • 73% – Lung disease
  • 58% – Behavioral and mental disorders
  • 55% – Diseases involving the reproductive and urinary organs
  • 47% – Nutritional, endocrine, and metabolic diseases
  • 33% – Diseases involving the blood vessels
  • 21% – Nervous system disorders
  • 20% – Digestive system disorders
  • 2.5% – Circulatory system diseases

It is also worth noting that the risk of cancer among people with OCD dropped by 13%, but the researchers don’t know why.

Suicide was the primary cause of increased mortality due to unnatural causes among OCD patients.  Further, people in this group were also 92% likelier to die from accidents like falls or traffic accidents.

Try these simple tips for managing OCD

Living with OCD can be challenging, but there are practical ways to manage and improve your symptoms.  First and foremost, consider reaching out to a mental health professional who specializes in OCD for support and guidance.  Take some time to read up on OCD from reliable sources.

You might want to explore gradual exposure therapy with a therapist to face anxiety-triggering situations at your own pace.  Mindfulness practices, like meditation and relaxation exercises, can be genuinely soothing and help reduce stress.  Don’t forget the power of a healthy lifestyle – regular exercise, a balanced (organic) diet, and good sleep are your allies in overall well-being.

Set achievable goals for yourself, breaking tasks into smaller steps to avoid feeling overwhelmed.  Connect with others who understand your journey by joining support groups or engaging with online communities.  Open up to friends and family about your challenges – communication is key.

Remember to be kind to yourself and celebrate the progress you make along the way.  These tips are just starting points, and it’s essential to personalize your approach with the help of healthcare professionals who understand your unique needs.

Sources for this article include:

BMJ.com
NIH.gov
NIH.gov
Sciencealert.com


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