Dr. Simpson explains if obsessive compulsive disorder/OCD is a progressive disease.
You know, usually what happens is, the symptoms come on, sometimes in childhood or adolescence the symptoms can be milder, and then usually there’s some sort of life event where it really, sort of, if you will, disrupts the person’s life, and then once they have them, for most people it waxes and wanes. There will be periods where they might have fewer symptoms and periods where they might have more, and it often seems triggered by what’s going on in their life.
There’s a subset of patients who have episodic OCD. They have the symptoms, they stop, they are completely free of them for a while, and then there’s an even smaller subset who get OCD symptoms and then have a downward course and can end up really very debilitated and quite ill or even end up psychotic. That’s a very small subset of the OCD patients that we see.
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.