Can you have sometimes OCD, or is it something else?
October 21, 2013 5:55 AM   Subscribe

I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder in undergrad (say 11 years ago), and it has been mostly controlled with a medium-low dose of SNRIs. Lately I've been having problems with what I think of as OCD-type symptoms, but sort of randomly. I'm looking for insight into whether this is a change in how my anxiety presents (i.e. am I developing OCD?) and if so, should I change treatment? If NOT, and this is a breakthrough GAD symptom, what are some more coping strategies? I'm usually pretty good at researching actual solutions/strategies for what I havem but since I'm not sure what that is, I'm having trouble figuring out what to research...

Two main types of attacks:
1) I suddenly MUST find something I haven't seen or cared about in months, and can easily replace if I don't find it, e.g. half a book of stamps, a particular type of hairpin, a bag of adhesive bandages. If I can't find it, it is because I am a disorganized slob (not untrue) and a failure as a person. Cue tearing my apartment apart looking for thing, making a bigger mess in the process, ending up too tired to clean, ensuring something else will get misplaced.

2) I realize I am out of or nearly out of something and I HAVE TO find out a cheap way of replacing it. I must do this immediately because I have no money and will have even less money tomorrow (even though I make a decent salary) and because every penny I spend, even on food and toilet paper, is wasteful and irresponsible. This also adds to me hoarding any type of grocery that goes up in price on me, currently cheese, previously peanut butter, before that, tuna.

99% of the time these attacks hit me when I'm otherwise at a low ebb, either trying to get to sleep (making me stay awake for another hour or two) or in the morning (making me late for work by 30 minutes or so). I think, if these things even start to kick off during the middle of the day I am so busy with work or I can distract myself, so they don't really get a foothold, but at the beginning and end of the day, I don't have the same options.

Other fun data: I have a sleep disorder, so I can't go on much higher a dose of the SNRI or I will fall asleep during the day. I have lorazepam for break through anxiety attacks but I would prefer not to use it. My work insurance has a small allowance for therapy but I want to make sure I've researched my options and am targeting the right things.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You need to revisit with your doctor. It may be time to see a psychiatrist to discuss your new anxieties and your meds.

It sounds like you're developing OCD, and it doesn't get better on its own.

Hang in there, I have anxiety too and I know EXACTLY what you're talking about!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:59 AM on October 21, 2013

This seems related to general anxiety to me, an OCD diagnosed person. But as you likely know, any new symptoms of anything should be discussed with a doctor. You could need a change in meds.
posted by agregoli at 6:17 AM on October 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

I diagnose people with all kinds of different mental disorders. I'm sorry you're going through this.

You have not presented enough information in your post to determine what is going on here, nor will you be able to do so in any one-way communication.

You should go to a licensed clinical social worker or psychiatrist and have a diagnostic conversation with them. This need not lead to immediate changes in treatment, although it might.

But, seriously, nothing anyone says in this thread is going to be dispositive enough to prevent "go see someone qualified" from being the best advice.
posted by OmieWise at 7:49 AM on October 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

OCD tends to be comorbid with other anxiety disorders and mood disorders, and there can be some overlap of symptoms so it's not always easy to distinguish. It's definitely worth seeing an expert about. Your treatment may not change dramatically, and it may not involve a change in medication, but it does need to evolve.

Generally speaking, you should check in with a professional from time to time if you're undergoing any sort of treatment for mental health concerns, because medicines can lose effectiveness and new symptoms can pop up. Sounds like now's the perfect time to make an appointment.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:20 AM on October 21, 2013

i do #1 all the time. i have GAD. i feel #1 is an expression of my anxiety and it likely is of yours too. it could be that stressors in your life are amping up your anxiety, or your meds are starting to poop out, or a combo of both.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 9:05 AM on October 21, 2013

Go to therapy!

For whatever it's worth, there have been times in my life where I have done what I felt like were OCD things, including a few instances of feeling like I had to do something bizarre (such as thinking/writing down the names of everyone I knew, or they would die). When I mentioned it to my doctor, she suggested that it was due to the extreme anxiety I was feeling after a friend of mine passed away. Somehow, I didn't connect the two.

The cycle of obsessive thoughts stopped after I discussed this with my doctor and a few sessions with a therapist. Talking about the bizarre thoughts in my head and learning that it was just a manifestation of anxiety was very helpful for me.

Get yourself to a therapist and talk to your prescribing psychiatrist.
posted by inertia at 11:19 AM on October 21, 2013

Sounds more like your anxiety. I have OCD and I have to have all of my empty hangers in the middle of my closet, tap my foot on the floor six times before going to bed, etc. Hope you feel better soon.
posted by espi at 2:05 PM on October 21, 2013

I have anxiety issues, too, and I definitely become obsessive about certain things, usually when I am feeling especially overwhelmed or tired-out. From what my therapist has told me, it's pretty normal for people to go through obsessive periods like this, but it's certainly not easy to overcome these moments on your own.
posted by sandwiches at 6:40 PM on October 21, 2013

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