One of the stumbling blocks to accessing effective treatment for individuals with OCD is that OCD can sometimes be confused with other disorders. The newest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) — which mental health professionals use to help diagnose mental health disorders — in fact, groups together these “related disorders” in the same chapter.
While some disorders can have overlapping symptoms with each other, being diagnosed with the right disorder has incredibly important implications for treatment, and therefore it is important to make sure you receive the right diagnosis. Even similar disorders can have very different treatments. And providing the wrong treatment for someone can result in extended, unnecessary suffering, wasted time, wasted resources, and potentially feeling hopeless about getting better.
Disorders Related to OCD
Below is a list of disorders grouped together with OCD in a “chapter” in the DSM-5. As you can see, these disorders share some common characteristics, but can also be differentiated in important ways. These are all referred to as Obsessive Compulsive Related Disorders or OC Related Disorders (they are also sometimes called OC Spectrum Disorders):
Disorders Related to PANDAS/PANS
In 1998, Dr. Susan Swedo identified a subtype of OCD in kids which she referred to as PANDAS. The importance of this observation is that these children tend to show OCD symptoms in a more extreme way and need medical attention in addition to psychological help. It is important, in cases where a child shows OCD symptoms "seemingly overnight" and with a severe onset, that they be evaluated by their pediatrician as soon as possible.
Disorders Confused with OCD
In addition to the Related Disorders there are some additional disorders that are commonly confused with OCD. These disorders show some common characteristics and overlapping features, but can also be distinguished from OCD and one another by a well-trained mental health provider. These disorders include: