Dr. Simpson explains the connection between anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder/OCD.
This is a hot research topic. Is OCD, OCD right now sits in the anxiety disorders and certainly OCD patients, when they confront the situations that generate distress, have a lot of anxiety, so in that sense OCD is an anxiety disorder.
At the same time, OCD has certain aspects of it which make it seem less like an anxiety disorder and closer to, let’s say, a tic disorder or even body dysmorphic disorder. So the compulsive part of OCD seems quite different than the other anxiety disorders.
Right now, researchers across the country are arguing, should OCD be considered an anxiety disorder or should it be considered its own disorder? Should it be linked with, let’s say, for example the tic disorders? My own personal opinion about this is, if you think about all the different symptoms of OCD having different underlying brain circuits, of course it’s an anxiety disorder because it generates a lot of anxiety when patients go into those situations. And that’s related to the cortex to the amygdala and to the fear circuitry, but in addition, the compulsive symptoms of OCD and the intrusive thoughts, one has to think about where those come from, and the current model is that is the cortex to a different part of the brain called the basal ganglia and that both are going on.
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.