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Ask the Expert
Q: Is there a connection between ADHD and OCD?
A: Yes, there is a connection since both disorders share some of the same brain mechanisms. Some of the symptoms of OCD and ADHD/ADD can appear to be strikingly similar, especially in children and teenagers since both are problems with attention. Although many symptoms seem to overlap, OCD and ADHD/ADD are different disorders. To be more confusing, many people have both conditions particularly in those whose OCD started when they are young. The big difference is in what a person pays attention to. An OCD sufferer will pay attention to what they fear while people with ADHD/ADD will pay attention to things that they find interesting or enjoyable while being easily distracted from what they need to do. Consider this example–collecting things. An individual with OCD will compulsively collect in order to neutralize some threat or harm. Collecting would be in response to the obsession as in scrupulosity, where acquiring and keeping anything religious would mean one would not go to hell. Even this can get close to hoarding. A person with ADHD/ADD, on the other hand, may seem to obsessive collect a certain item, but it is not to alleviate anxiety or neutralize an obsession, it is pleasure-driven.
The OCD sufferer may find it difficult to focus on anything due to the intrusiveness of their obsessions, worries, and ruminations. A person with OCD may have the obsession that he would blurt out something offensive in class and spend his attention worrying about it. An individual with ADHD/ADD would be daydreaming about playing video games, or would impulsively blurt something out. It can be complicated and some experts think that OCD and ADHD may exist on a continuum, with OCD at one end with more compulsivity (harm avoidant), and ADHD at the other, consisting of impulsivity (risk taking). This confusion is often the reason why OCD is misdiagnosed. This makes getting a good assessment from a mental health professional wellinformed in the nature of OCD is essential. Both disorders need to be treated and the treatment can be quite different.
Ask the Expert
Is there a question you have that you would like answered by an OCD expert?
Submit your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please put “Ask the Expert” in the subject field. All questions are answered by licensed professionals. Questions will be published anonymously in the newsletter.
**Unfortunately, questions regarding medications cannot be answered.**
Going to the International OCD Foundation Conference in Los Angeles? Come by and visit us in the vendor area. We look forward to meeting you there!
How I have made it through OCD
by Danny Gassaway
As a 33 year old male, I have struggled with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder all of my life. When I grew up, OCD was not really known. No one knew why I told on myself, why I did things in a repetitive manner and couldn’t figure out any reason why when I was 16 years of age, I had re-occurring thoughts of hurting myself when I was the happiest kid! With all of that being said, I was diagnosed with OCD at 16. What did this mean? I needed answers. I grew up with panic attacks along with some depression but did not know what to make of it. Was it just another label? What was I to do?
To continue reading, click here. To contact Danny Gassaway, please email email@example.com.
Advocate Spotlight: The Face of OCD
Elizabeth McIngvale-Cegelski, Ph.D., LMSW
Our very own Dr. Elizabeth McIngvale-Cegelski is our featured Advocate Spotlight this quarter.
At the age of thirteen, Elizabeth McIngvale was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder. She was taunted by intrusive thoughts and rituals so severe, that doctors and experts to ld her parents that her OCD was “untreatable.” Not satisfied, her parents continued to search for options, and finally found help at the Menninger Psychiatric Clinic, located at that time in Topeka, KS.
Elizabeth was admitted as an inpatient, and it was at Menninger that she first learned the techniques to overcome her OCD. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) with exposure and response prevention (ERP) helped Elizabeth defy that early prognosis and today she is living a full life and managing her OCD.
Soon, Elizabeth was telling her story to others, in hopes of helping others living with not only OCD, but other mental illnesses. She started the Peace of Mind Foundation to help spread awareness and education about OCD, and to help provide resources to individuals and families affected by OCD. Elizabeth believes that everyone should have access to an intervention that is supported by research, and no one should suffer in silence.
To help achieve this goal, she collaborated with experts and created the OCD Challenge, a free self-help program for people living with OCD. This program is currently utilized by over 1000 people, located in nearly every continent in the world.
Elizabeth still struggles with OCD, but with the skills she learned by engaging in CBT with ERP, she has been able to take back her life. At one time, her parents and doctors didn’t think she would graduate from high school. Last year, Elizabeth was married and this year she earned her Ph.D in social work. Her story is as testament to others who suffer with OCD and other mental illness – “that no one should have to suffer in silence, there is help; there is hope.” Through advocacy and public campaigns Elizabeth hopes to stamp out the stigma associated with mental illness.
To contact Elizabeth, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Advocate Spotlight: The Face of OCD features personal stories of triumph over OCD and person who are making a difference. If you are interested in sharing your story with us, please email email@example.com.
Living with OCD: The Lifelong Battle Over the Disorder
Did you miss the 20/20 special on OCD that aired a few weeks ago?
You can read Elizabeth’s article, and view the episode here .
Stress, Obsess, Repeat: What it’s like to have OCD
by Valerie Tejeda
Are you interested in participating in OCD research?
Featured Study: SkyLyte Study on OCD
In this study, doctors are evaluating two different strengths of an investigational medication with a comparison of placebo (a substance with no active ingredients) when taken in addition to SSRI medications. The results from this study will allow doctors and researchers to better understand the safety and effectiveness of the investigational medication when used in combination with SSRI medications, and help to determine whether it could one day be used as a safe and effective combination treatment option for OCD patients.
- Intimacy in the Obsessive-Compulsive Spectrum
- Association-Splitting: A web-based study on a novel technique targeting obsessions
- Quality of Life in Adults with OCD
- Self Compassion in OCD
- Prevalence of Subtle Movements among Individuals with and without OCD
- Parents of Adolescents with OCD
- Individuals with OCD or Hoarding-Decision Making Styles
Our mission is to help improve the quality of life for those who are affected by OCD through advocacy, education, research and support. Whether you have OCD, or you love someone who does, we are here for you.