medical IDs for OCD

Medical IDs for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

The confidence to live with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a type of anxiety disorder (AD) that affects millions of adults and children across the U.S. and around the world. When a person has OCD, they have distressing thoughts, repetitive behaviors, or both.

People living with obsessive-compulsive disorder  are usually aware that their thoughts and behaviors are irrational, but without treatment, they are helpless to stop it. In fact, the harder a person tries to stop their OCD, the worse the symptoms can become. Not surprisingly, people living with anxiety disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder are three to five times more likely to end up in a doctor’s office and six times more likely to end up hospitalized than those who do not suffer from ADs.

The increased risk of frequent doctor visits and trips to the ER are just a few reasons why healthcare professionals recommend that people living with the condition wear a medical ID for OCD.

How MedicAlert protects those living with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

One thing you shouldn’t worry about is what could happen if there’s an emergency. MedicAlert’s protection plans offer benefits that extend beyond the ID, providing safety and peace of mind for people living with OCD, their families and caregivers.

24/7 Emergency Response

Our team provides first responders the information they need to provide fast, accurate care.

Digital Health Profile

All your vital information, all in one place for you and your caregiver.

Emergency Contact Notification

In an emergency, we connect families so that no one is alone in a crisis.

Patient Instructions

Share the information that’s important to your care, such as use of rescue medications or contraindication for tests like MRIs.

Pair a medical ID for OCD with the protection plan that’s right for you.

What exactly is OCD?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a type of anxiety disorder that affects many people from many different walks of life and of all ages. 

Researchers at the Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety at University of Pennsylvania (Penn) estimate that six million American adults and around half a million U.S. children and teenagers are living with OCD. In all groups with obsessive-compulsive disorder, obsessions are unwanted thoughts, images, ideas or impulses that are distressing, which may cause embarrassment, worry, or guilt. Compulsions are behaviors that the person feels they have to perform repeatedly to reduce distressing feelings or to prevent something bad from happening. For a person diagnosed with OCD, these behaviors are time-consuming and interfere with daily living.

Help others help you. Wear a medical alert ID bracelet or necklace engraved with important information for emergency responders and healthcare providers

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

What causes obsessive-compulsive disorder?

Researchers aren’t sure of the exact causes of OCD. However, researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine and others believe that brain abnormalities, genetics, and the environment might play a role. While there is no one specific cause of obsessive-compulsive disorder, research suggests that other factors may increase the risk of developing OCD or trigger the disorder. This includes stressful life events and mental health disorders such as depression, tic disorders, and other anxiety disorders. Substance abuse is also believed to be a risk factor for OCD.

Research suggests that obsessive-compulsive disorder tends to start in the teens or early adulthood, although it can also start in childhood. Research is conflicting on whether or not OCD is more common in women than it is in men. However, researchers at Johns Hopkins believe the disorder affects men and women equally.

What to engrave on MedicAlert medical IDs for OCD:

MedicAlert offers free custom engraving on all our OCD bracelets and medical ID products. Engravings on medical IDs for OCD should include any critical medical information that can protect and save lives in an accident or medical emergency, for example:

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Medications
  • Emergency contact information
  • Any other critical medical information that needs to be communicated to first responders
medical IDs for OCD

Sample engraving. Consult our team if you need help engraving your medical ID for OCD.

What are the symptoms and complications of OCD?

Symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder are typically the same in adults, children, and teens. They often begin gradually, and can vary in severity throughout life. OCD symptoms can also change over time, and extreme stress can make them worse. In many cases, the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder can be so severe and time-consuming that the condition can become disabling.

Researchers at Mayo Clinic have discovered that obsessions often have themes to them such as:

  • Aggressive or horrific thoughts about losing control and harming yourself or others
  • Doubting and having difficulty tolerating uncertainty
  • Fear of contamination or dirt
  • Needing things orderly and symmetrical
  • Unwanted thoughts about sexual or religious subjects (this is rare in young children)
  • Unwelcome thoughts, including aggression

Signs and symptoms of obsessions include:

  • Fear of being contaminated by touching objects others have touched
  • Avoidance of situations that can trigger obsessions, such as shaking hands
  • Doubts that you’ve locked the door or turned off the stove
  • Images of driving your car into a crowd of people
  • Extreme stress when objects aren’t orderly or facing a certain way
  • Thoughts about acting inappropriately in public, such as shouting obscenities
  • Unpleasant sexual images (rare in young children)

Compulsions are repetitive behaviors that a person living with OCD feels they have to perform in order to relieve anxiety. While giving in to compulsive behaviors offers relief, it is only temporary.

Compulsions typically have themes such as:

  • Checking things repeatedly such as stoves and light switches
  • Counting (feeling that certain numbers have a special significance)
  • Demanding reassurance (checking in with someone over and over again related to a particular obsession or worry)
  • Following a strict routine (deviating from it can cause extreme distress)
  • Excessive orderliness
  • Repeated cleaning and washing

Some specific signs and symptoms of compulsion include:

  • Arranging canned goods, condiments, and other items so they face the same way
  • Checking doors repeatedly to make sure they’re locked
  • Checking the stove repeatedly to make sure it’s off
  • Counting in certain patterns
  • Hand-washing until the skin becomes raw
  • Silently repeating a word, prayer, or phrase

Complications associated with OCD

Many problems can result from obsessive-compulsive disorder. Some can range from mild to severe enough to interfere with daily living. Others, can be fatal. Some of the most common complications of OCD include:

  • Difficulty with social activities
  • Excessive time spent engaging in compulsive behaviors
  • Health issues, such as contact dermatitis from frequent hand-washing
  • Overall poor quality of life
  • Problems with attending school and work
  • Suicidal thoughts and behavior
  • Troubled relationships

The symptoms and complications of OCD can lead to a meltdown, crisis, or other medical emergency. This is why it is important to wear a MedicAlert medical ID for OCD. A MedicAlert ID can let first responders and ER doctors know that you are living with obsessive-compulsive disorder. This crucial information can play an important role in helping first responders and ER doctors administer the fastest, safest, and most accurate treatment if you are experiencing a crisis or have another medical emergency.

How do you diagnose obsessive-compulsive disorder?

There are no specific tests for obsessive-compulsive disorder. To help diagnose the condition, the International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) states that a trained therapist will confirm three things:

  1. That the person has obsessions
  2. That he or she engages in compulsive behaviors
  3. That the obsessions and compulsions take a lot of time and get in the way of important activities the person values, such as working, going to school, or spending time with family and friends

A specialist will also confirm that symptoms are not caused by drugs, alcohol, medications, other medical problems, or other mental disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder, body image disorder, or an eating disorder. It is important to note that a trained specialist will use the criteria outlined in the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) to ensure an accurate diagnosis. 

How do you treat, manage, and live with OCD?

Although treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder will vary by individual, doctors and specialists trained in mental illness often use medications and therapies or a combination of the two to help control symptoms. Although it is not a cure for obsessive-compulsive disorder, medication and therapy can help people with OCD live a normal and active life. The most effective medications for OCD are known as serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs), selective SRIs (SSRIs), and tricyclic antidepressants. These drugs help to increase levels of serotonin in the brain. Some of the most commonly prescribed brands include:

  • Anafranil (clomipramine)
  • Prozac (fluoxetine)
  • Luvox (fluvoxamine)
  • Paxil (paroxetine)
  • Zoloft (sertraline)

Therapies for obsessive-compulsive disorder include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and exposure and response prevention (EX/RP). 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapy that involves sessions with a trained therapist who will help you explore, understand, and acknowledge your thoughts and emotions. While the number of sessions it takes to accomplish this will vary by individual, CBT can help you stop obsessive-compulsive behaviors, and possibly replace them with healthier ways to handle the condition. 

Exposure and response prevention (EX/RP) therapy involves doing the thing that causes anxiety, while a trained specialist prevents you from responding with a compulsion. For example, the specialist may ask you to touch something that’s dirty, then prevent you from washing your hands.

In addition to medication and therapy, a MedicAlert ID and protection plan can play an important role in managing your health and keeping you safe if you are living with OCD. This is especially true in a medical emergency. A MedicAlert ID and protection plan can be there for you if you are unable to communicate critical information about your condition to first responders, ER doctors, and hospital staff in an emergency. Our Advantage Plus protection plan for obsessive-compulsive disorder has you covered in emergency situations and even during your regular doctor visits. 

How medical IDs for OCD combined with MedicAlert  Membership provide peace of mind

In a medical emergency or other crisis, a MedicAlert medical ID can let emergency responders know that you are living with OCD. This can ensure the fastest and most appropriate response if you are unable to communicate the details of your condition. One of the most crucial details is the type of medications you may be taking. This can help emergency responders and ER doctors avoid any potential drug interactions during rescue efforts and treatment. A MedicAlert medical ID for OCD can also put emergency responders in touch with your emergency contact information. Add a MedicAlert protection plan and a MedicAlert ID becomes even more valuable to your health and safety. 

For people living with obsessive-compulsive disorder, a MedicAlert protection plan can provide your full health profile to doctors and hospital staff, extensive details about your medications and treatment plans, additional emergency and designated physician contact information, and any other detailed information important to your care. A MedicAlert ID and protection plan can be your voice if you are in an accident, crisis or other medical emergency.

  • We’re your voice:  If you can’t speak for yourself due to a medical emergency, your ID will speak for you – informing others about your OCD and any medications you’re taking.
  • 24/7 emergency protection:  In an emergency, the MedicAlert team will relay all of your critical medical information to first responders, no matter where or when your emergency happens.
  • Always connected:  You should never be alone in an emergency. That’s why MedicAlert will reach out to your designated contacts if you are unable to do so.
  • Live with peace of mind and confidence:  MedicAlert will be there for you every step of the way. You’ll have the confidence and freedom to live your life with OCD, knowing we’ve got you covered.
DISCLAIMER: THIS WEBSITE DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. The information in this article is presented for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified healthcare provider for any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.