Jul 20th 2023
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition marked by cycles of distressing thoughts and compulsions. While OCD isn’t inherently deadly to a sufferer, the compound effect of these aspects of OCD can significantly worsen an individual’s quality of life and mental well-being.
Intrusive and unpleasant thoughts are staple symptoms of OCD.  These thoughts can be violent in nature and relate to the killing of oneself or others.  These thoughts cause marked distress, leading sufferers to feel the urge to act on compulsions to alleviate anxiety. 
Treatment options, such as cognitive behavior therapy with exposure and response prevention, are integral to helping sufferers manage symptoms of OCD. 
While the effects of OCD are not directly life-threatening, engaging in certain compulsive behaviors can lead to physical harm. For example, excessive handwashing or cleaning rituals may cause skin damage or infections, and self-soothing behaviors such as skin picking or hair pulling can cause long term physical damage.
Studies point to most people with severe OCD being unable to perform basic acts of self-care and hygiene.  60% of patients tested in a 2011 study showed evidence of dehydration, while 40% were incontinent.
OCD patients are particularly prone to kidney damage and hyperlipidemia, which may be related to an erratic eating schedule and an inability to hydrate properly. 
Sufferers of OCD may exhibit self-harming behaviors or suicidal thoughts, which require immediate professional intervention and support.
There are numerous published studies that point to a higher risk of suicidal thoughts or behaviors in people with OCD than others in the general population. 
Research suggests that individuals with OCD who are most at risk for suicidal thoughts or behaviors are those who have comorbid conditions such as depression, anxiety disorders, or other mental health challenges.  This risk is also increased if the person with OCD has a history of substance abuse or is socially isolated or unemployed.
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or exhibiting self-harming behaviors, it is crucial to seek professional help. If the person is in a mental health crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 for support and guidance from a trained counselor. Alternatively, call 911 immediately if believe you or a loved one to be in danger. Remember you are not alone and there are people and organizations that can help you.
If you are concerned about someone with OCD who is experiencing suicidal thoughts, here are some steps you can take to help:
Remember, supporting someone with suicidal thoughts can be challenging, disheartening and stressful. It is essential to also take care of your own well-being and you may benefit from seeking guidance from a mental health professional.
Again, it is important to stress that if you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, it is crucial to seek immediate help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 for support and guidance from a trained counselor. Alternatively, call 911 immediately if believe you or a loved one to be in danger. Remember you are not alone and there are people and organizations that can help you.
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