Dr. Simpson explains if it is possible for obsessive compulsive disorder/OCD to lead to death.
OCD in and of itself isn’t characterized by being fatal, but here are the things that actually can happen. I have had patients who have had such severe contamination concerns that they don’t go to the hospital, so they get another illness, but they can’t go into the hospital so they don’t get the treatment they need. Or, I have had patients who have gotten very, very depressed because their OCD has ruined their life and have gotten to the point where they have taken their life because they don’t want to live another day with OCD.
So the symptom, or patients with severe hoarding, there have been cases where people have collected so much stuff that they have been crushed in their house under their stuff. So there are examples where the illness can be fatal, but it’s not in the same way that we think of a heart attack as being fatal, not in that same way.
About Dr. Simpson, M.D., Ph.D.:
Helen Blair Simpson, M.D., Ph.D., an expert on obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), is an associate professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University, New York City, where she directs the Anxiety Disorders Clinic and OCD Research Program at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. She was a member of the work group that developed the first “Practice Guidelines for the Treatment of Patients With OCD” for the American Psychiatric Association.
Through her research, Dr. Simpson is working to trace the brain circuits believed to play a major role in the development of obsessions and compulsions, and she has developed novel approaches to treatment. Her research has been supported by a NARSAD Young Investigator grant.