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Obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, is an anxiety disorder that prompts recurring thoughts that cause irrational fears.

OCD/PTSD/SAD about Addiction: Definitions and Treatment

Addiction is a broad affliction with many subsets.

Sometimes, addiction can manifest in other disorders, such as OCD, PTSD and SAD.

OCD and addiction

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, is an anxiety disorder that prompts recurring thoughts that cause irrational fears.

One of the most common examples of OCD is handwashing.

A person with OCD may compulsively ceremonially wash their hands.

Afterwards, they may receive a short-term boost in dopamine.

However, this quickly wears off, and the urge to handwash reoccurs.

In many ways, the addictive nature of OCD parallels drug and alcohol addiction; over time, the brain becomes reliant on the dopamine released by fulfilling obsessive behaviours, gradually becoming addicted.

The stress of a professional environment can sometimes exacerbate these symptoms, whilst the disorder itself can negatively impact a person’s career.

PTSD and addiction

For patients or families who struggle to afford residential rehabilitation, we are able to discuss alternative and more affordable treatment options and to give advice on funding options such as cross-border healthcare and funding via statutory services (NHS and social services).Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can occur when someone has witnessed or been involved in a traumatic event.

Traumatic events can cause many psychological complications.

These include depression, anxiety, agitation and stress.

Whilst most of these symptoms typically subside over time, PTSD tends to be much more persistent, lasting decades after the inciting event.

Some potential causes of PTSD include:

  • Military combat
  • Serious accidents
  • Natural disasters
  • Terrorism
  • Bereavement

SAD and addiction

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) triggers extreme negative emotion during certain times of the year.

Whilst it is normal to feel a bit down when winter rolls around, SAD sufferers experience an extreme dip in serotonin.

This chemical imbalance can leave people feeling lethargic, depressed or even suicidal.

SAD typically occurs in people who already suffer from some depression.

SAD is also divided into two categories. These are summer SAD and winter SAD.

Some symptoms of each include:

  • Restlessness
  • Lack of appetite
  • Oversleeping and low energy
  • Weight loss
  • Insomnia

OCD/PTSD/SAD and drug addiction

It is common for suffers from OCD, PTSD and SAD to fall into drug and alcohol addiction.

Estimates suggest that up to 75% of people living with PTSD report some degree of alcohol disorder, whilst around 20% of OCD sufferers engage in some form of substance abuse.

What treatment is available?

It is often the mindset of an alcoholic or depressed person to hide their problem. Whilst they might recognise they need help, it does not mean they are ready to accept it.When treating addictive tendencies, there are practical steps that most can take immediately.

These include increasing social activity and avoiding the addictive substance as much as possible.

However, when OCD, PTSD and SAD are part of what drives the addiction in question, it is often advisable to seek professional help.

As always, it is worth arranging an appointment with your local GP, as everyone is different, and addiction is easily misdiagnosed.

From here, you may decide to pursue professional treatment.

A popular route for treating addiction is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

This allows sufferers to identify what is triggering the addictive tendencies and to change their habits for the better.

Castle Craig Hospital is the UK’s leading addiction recovery rehab, specialising in helping professionals to navigate a pathway out of addiction.

If you feel like private rehab is the route, click here for more information on Castle Craig Hospital’s treatment programme.



For more information on how OCD, PTSD and SAD relate to addiction, please visit OCD and Addiction, or speak to a team member confidentially on 0808 115 0608.

Last Updated on June 15, 2022 by