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Can Other Medical Conditions, such as Tourette syndrome, Be Confused with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?

Yes. OCD is closely related to Tourette syndrome, and the two conditions often occur together. Tourette syndrome is a disorder that involves repetitive movements or unwanted sounds (tics) that cannot be easily controlled. About 90 percent of people with Tourette syndrome have compulsive symptoms and as many as two-thirds meet the diagnostic criteria for OCD. Besides Tourette syndrome, psychosis often leads to obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors that can be difficult to distinguish from OCD. In addition, OCD can be difficult to differentiate from depression because the two disorders often occur together, and major depression is often associated with obsessive thoughts. About one-third of patients with OCD have a major depressive disorder.

What are treatments for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?

Studies have found that pharmacotherapy, behavior therapy, or a combination of both is effective is significantly reducing the symptoms of patients with OCD.

The standard medication approach is to start with an SSRI or clomipramine and then move to other drug strategies if the serotonin-specific drugs are not effective. If treatment with clomipramine or an SSRI is unsuccessful, many therapists add valproate (Depakene), lithium (Eskalith), or carbamazepine (Tegretol). Other drugs that can be tried in the treatment of OCD are venlafaxine (Effexor), pindolol (Visken), and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), especially phenelzine (Nardil). Other treatments for unresponsive patients include buspirone (BuSpar), 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT), L-tryptophan, and clonazepam (Klonopin).

Mental Health Library Sources:

Information included in all topics of the Mental Health Library comes from the Desk Reference to the Diagnostic Criteria From DSM-5 and Kaplan & Sadock’s Concise Textbook of Clinical Psychiatry. Complete diagnostic and treatment information may be found within these publications.


Information within the Mental Health Library is not intended to be used for self-diagnosis purposes. Rather, it is provided as a public educational service to make people aware of mental health conditions. Please consult a qualified mental health professional for a diagnosis of any suspected mental health illness.

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