Research: Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder or OCD in MS

#MSBlog: Are you an obsessive-compulsive? OCD may be commoner in MSers and is linked to disease progression.

Foroughipour et al. Frequency of obsessive-compulsive disorder in patients with multiple sclerosis: A cross-sectional study. J Res Med Sci. 2012;17:248-53.

BACKGROUND: Obsessive compulsive disorder has been reported in MSers. Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a kind of anxiety disorder characterized by a combination of repetitive thoughts and repetitive behaviors for reducing anxiety. 

AIMS: This study aimed to investigate the frequency of OCD in MSers. 

MATERIALS AND METHODS: 112 MSers participated in this study. Demographic data were obtained through using their medical records. MS clinical subtypes, the duration of disease and neurological signs were determined. The Kurtzke Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) was used to quantify disability in MS. OCD was confirmed by psychiatrist through using DSM-IV criteria. The Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS) was used to rate the severity of OCD. Data analysis was performed by SPSS for Windows software (version 15.0) and Chi-square test and Exact test were used for analyzing data. 

RESULTS: The frequency of OCD in MSers was 16.1%. The OCD was significantly correlated with a higher EDSS score (X(2) = 86.515, P = 0.0001). OCD was also significantly correlated with the duration of disease, phenotypic subgroup, cranial nerve involvement, cerebellar, autonomic, sensory and motor nerve involvement. 

CONCLUSIONS: OCD might be considered in quantifying disability of patients with MS. It might be suggested that all the patients with MS to be screened for OCD.

“This study’s results are surprising to me; an unexpected result that needs to be confirmed. I have a few MSers who have OCD, but I thought it was rare. This study suggests that as MS progresses Msers have a greater chance of developing OCD; i.e. the presence of OCD was associated with disease duration and some disabilities. Could OCD be another hidden psychiatric symptom? OCD can be very disabling so clearly would need to be looked for and treated. If you have OCD I would appreciate your thoughts.”

“If you are interested in finding out if you have OCD you can do a quick online questionnaire.”

Do I Have OCD? Find out with an online questionnaire!

About the author

Prof G

Professor of Neurology, Barts & The London. MS & Preventive Neurology thinker, blogger, runner, vegetable gardener, husband, father, cook and wine & food lover.


  • If you are mild, moderately or severely disabled you naturally have to consider practical arrangements and are quite likely to worry about or have anxiety about these arrangements. This anxiety or worry could be a contributing factor to developing OCD or could be interpreted in some way as being a symptom of OCD. In my view it is entirely natural to have some anxiety about aspects of life which are easily accomplished by people without eg mobility problems, but which for people with such problems pose an obstacle.

  • I'm not surprised by this result. My daughter showed most uncharacteristic signs of OCD in the year before diagnosis.

    Another family member (non-MS) certainly has OCD. I've often wondered if depression, OCD, & MS run together in families.

  • Well, I just did the test & don't have OCD. However, I had been diagnosed with avoidance disorder many years before my MS diagnosis, which had been with me even longer so there are mental disorders in MS-ers – if they are related and what comes first is difficult to say – my avoidance disorder has naturally been augmented by MS. However, sometimes it is just plain shyness in someone who happens to have MS so………

  • Huh. Cogfog can make the act of thinking more challenging. Repetition of thoughts could be a coping strategy with the cogfog.

  • MS doesn't cause OCD – there is probably a separate, connecting factor. I have Hashimotos (autoimmune disorder) and OCD, also Vitamin D deficiency. My brother has MS. He and other people in my extended family also have to take Vitamin D supplements. There is some as-yet to be discovered link between hereditary pre-disposition, Vitamin D absorption and auto-immune disorders. An open mind, and more research is needed!

  • I have had OCD for since childhood (Confimed PANDAS, which is autoimmune)Been getting worse since child births. Now diagnosed with MS at age 47.

By Prof G



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