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Depression and obsession (3 similarities)

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In this guide, we will be discussing “ Depression and Obsession”, depression and ti’s symptoms. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and it causes, the association or relation between obsession and depression, underlying brain makeup of depression and OCD, coping up with OCD and Depression and finally, some of the most frequently asked questions around this topic.

Depression and Obsession are related and often co-occur because:

  • Obsession results in depression in the individual 
  • The biochemical factors result in both the disorders
  • Imbalance in the serotonin level results in both the disorder
  • Symptoms of depression also result in the disturbing obsession that an individual finds it hard to cope up with.
  • Depression can also be due to the stress of living with OCD


Depression is believed to be the key cause of disability around the world. It is a mood disorder characterised by the feeling of persistent and prolonged low mood, sadness, loss of interest in pleasurable activities: anhedonia, feeling down and low throughout the day, weeks and months. 

Although the feeling of sadness and loss of pleasure is familiar and a normal feeling to every one of us, depression is something that persists and causes severe impairment in an individual’s life. It can affect people from any age group ranging from children, adolescent, adult and geriatric population.

The duration of depressive episodes differs and varies from each individual wherein, for some cases, it lasts for about 2 weeks while in others it might persist for months and years.

Symptoms of Depression

Despite Depression being a mood disorder and causing severe impairment in the individual, there are other associated effects of depression in the everyday functioning of the individual. 

It can take a toll on one’s psychological health, physical health, job performance, social relation and overall well-being. 

The three noting symptoms of Depression are:

  • Fatigability, tiredness and feeling of exhaustion
  • Anhedonia, loss of interest in pleasurable activities
  • Depressed mood or prolonged sadness

Some of the other signs and symptoms of Depression are:

  • Sustained and prolonged depressed mood
  • Loss of interest in normally pleasurable activities or those that one enjoys doing
  • Loss of sexual drives
  • Fluctuations in body weight
  • Disruption in sleep cycle resulting in insomnia and hypersomnia
  • Muscle agitation, restlessness and twitches
  • Disruption and disturbance in speech
  • Fatigue and low energy in performing daily task
  • A feeling of worthlessness and excessive guilt
  • Recurrent thoughts on death, suicide and attempts for suicide.
  • Impairment in concentration and attention

These are some of the major signs and symptoms of Depression. The severity and the interference of these symptoms differ and varied individually owing to other underlying reasons.


Obsession is a major symptom OF Obsessive Compulsive Disorder which is believed to be one of the most common psychological disorders. It is believed to be distressing as well as disabling for the individual. OCD can really be devastating for an interpersonal relationship, in leisure activities as well as in general well being and life satisfaction.

Obsessive thoughts and the resulting compulsive behaviour of an individual can be severe and disturbing for the daily functioning of an individual. It is generally an anxiety disorder where the person faces unwanted thoughts and ritualized behaviour which is compelled to perform. 

Obsessive thought faced by the person are:

  • Take up frequently and disturb the person every now and then
  • It is beyond their control and can’t manage
  • It is not something that they enjoy 
  • Such thoughts cause severe impairment and disruption in their daily life.

Some of the most common and frequent obsessive thoughts are about contamination, harm and threat, control, losing near and dear ones, order and structure and superstitious. 

The resulting compulsive behaviour to get rid of the obsessive thoughts are excessive double-checking and ensuring the safety around their space, ordering and arranging stuff, accumulating, repetitive handwashing and excessively engaging in certain ritualistic behaviour.

Most of the common OCD categories are washers, doubters and sinner, hoarder, checker and arranger.

Symptoms of Obsession and Compulsive Behaviour

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders affects different people in a varied way, however, in all the cases, there is a particular pattern of thoughts as well as behaviour.

The three main elements of


which are intrusive and unwanted thoughts, images and desires which are distressing and repeatedly disturb their mind. Obsessions are mostly with contamination, self-harm, order and perceived threat.


obsessive thoughts result in severe and intense anxiety in the individual.


it is the mental acts or repetitive behaviour that affects the person with obsessive thoughts. Such behaviour is performed due to anxiety and distressing emotions. It includes regular handwashing, double-checking, reassurance and repetition.

Obsession and Depression

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is classified under anxiety disorder while Depression is a mood disorder.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is often associated with depression and it is believed to be a depression problem for the individual. The vulnerability and susceptibility of an individual to depression is the result of their unwanted and irrational thoughts and desires resulting in excessive senseless behaviour by the individual. 

Research studies have shown that people with OCD often meet the diagnostic criteria and guidelines set for depression which is predominant feeling of low and depressed for weeks or more and often has severe impairment in their daily functioning. 

Most of the individuals diagnosed with both Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Depression reports that their depressive symptoms started exhibiting before the onset of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders. 

And it was suggested that Depression is a result of their distress and disruptions as a result which is associated with having OCD. In a very rare case, depression and OCD occur at the same time.

Both the disorders cause severe impairments in the personal as well as the social life of the person and results in negative impact.

The disorders often co-occur where there is a one-way relationship between the two, around one-third of people with OCD tend to have Depression at some point in their life and those two-third of them have at least one single episode of depression throughout their lifetime.

Evidence over the period of time has shown that depressive symptoms are linked to an obsession, a negative thought one can’t get rid of than compulsion which is a repetitive or ritualistic behaviour of a person that one can’t control. 

Brain Chemistry of OCD and people with Depression

It is believed that the brain chemistry or the genetic predisposition and diathesis of OCD and Depression shares a similar or common ground.

There are changes in the brain makeup and the use of serotonin which results in the disorders. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that acts as a chemical for nerve cells. The imbalance of serotonin results in the change in brain chemistry as well as behaviour, which are often evident in both the disorders.

Thus, it is believed that having an episode of OCD makes the person vulnerable to depression since the underlying biological factor and the chemical associated are similar.

Stress of having Depression often results in an obsession

Researches have shown that people who are diagnosed with OCD develop depression post the onset of OCD. Only in the very rare case, OCD is developed after being diagnosed with depression.

It suggests that obsession and the obsessive-compulsive disorder itself results in a high risk of mental health-related disorders. The stress of having to live with OCD and its symptoms make the person vulnerable to develop depression. 

The dual diagnosis of OCD and Depression is a symbolism of prolonged episodes of OCD in the individual resulting in experiencing depressed and low mood. 

Many undiagnosed cases of OCD are in itself a great stressor to develop episodes of severe depression.

Coping up with Depression and OCD

OCD and MDD have it’s own specific care and treatment however when the two occur together, it results in a complicated therapy.

For the treatment of depression with a dual diagnosis of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor, SSRI is often prescribed. Since medication is not the ultimate option or resort for the treatment owing to its severe intolerable side effects, other treatment options could be used.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, TMS is a non-invasive brain treatment where it stimulates those brain areas that have become dysfunctional. TMS has shown significant improvement in the treatment of depression as well as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders. Those individuals who are diagnosed with both the disorders have shown significant improvement and recovery from the conditions.

Thus, when an individual diagnosed with OCD experiences any kind of sadness and depressed feeling, it is a must and necessary to speak out and seek proper treatment. 

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a therapy often used in case of both depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder where the aim of the therapy is to confront the irrational and distorted thought with reality testing and modifying it with more positive and realistic thoughts. 

Providing and offering a secure attachment for the individual with dual diagnosis helps in treatment as well as recovery from these disorders.

FAQs: Depression and Obsession

Is obsessive thinking a symptom of depression?

Yes, obsessive or repetitive intrusive thoughts and thinking is a symptom of depression and a cause of mental illnesses in general. People who are diagnosed with depression often engage much of their time thinking about something very frequently and for a prolonged time.

Is depression a side effect of OCD?

Yes, OCD might lead to depression where the recurrent obsessive thought of the individual impairing their daily functioning makes them vulnerable to depressive episodes.

What is related to depression?

Anxiety, Panic and other phobic related disorders are related to Depression and they are the most frequently occurring disorder in people.

What mental illness causes obsession?

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is the mental illness or disorder that results in repetitive unwanted and recurrent thoughts that triggers them to something over again and repetitively.

How do I overcome obsessive thoughts?

One can overcome the obsessive thoughts by getting back on track, keep moving, ensuring and beware of the old baggage and troubles, identify all distortions and use humour and comedy.


In this guide, we had discussed “ Depression and Obsession”, depression and ti’s symptoms. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and it causes, the association or relation between obsession and depression, underlying brain makeup of depression and OCD, coping up with OCD and Depression and finally, some of the most frequently asked questions around this topic.

For more information and details, visit the links mentioned down below


Abramowitz, J. (2010). OCD and Depression. iocdf.

Ford, V. (2019). The Connection Between OCD and Depression. Success TMS.,for%20related%20mental%20health%20disorders.

Kelly, O. (2020). The Link Between OCD and Major Depressive Disorder. verywell mind.

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