Trends in Psychiatry and Psychotherapy
Trends in Psychiatry and Psychotherapy

Obsessive-compulsive disorder reinforcement during the COVID-19 pandemic

Felipe Ornell, Daniela Tusi Braga, Daniela Vicente Bavaresco, Ingrid Davila Francke, Juliana Nichterwitz Scherer, Lisia von Diemen, Felix Henrique Paim Kessler

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The COVID-19 pandemic is unquestionably impacting on the mental health of the population worldwide. Fear of contamination can both increase levels of stress in healthy individuals and intensify psychiatric symptoms in patients with pre-existing conditions, especially obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). During the COVID-19 pandemic, the imminent risk of contamination creates a logical need for self-surveillance and hygiene habits. However, this kind of information can have drastic implications for subjects with OCD, since cognitive distortions and compensatory strategies (cleansing rituals) are no longer irrational or oversized – rather, these ideas become legitimate and socially accepted, generating plausible validation for the intensification of compulsive cleaning rituals. Patients who presented remission of OCD symptoms would be more likely to have a relapse, and subclinical patients may scale up and ultimately be diagnosed with OCD due to the reinforcement of their habits, emotions and thoughts.


COVID-19, pandemic, mental health, obsessive compulsive disorder.


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