Symptoms of Obsessive Love Disorder

Joanne is an 18-year old woman in a relationship, coming into the counseling clinic with her boyfriend. The man appears to be worried and troubled by the actions of his significant other, while Joanne herself does not show any desire to participate. Feelings of hopelessness when Joanne is not around her boyfriend are brought up, in addition to previous threats of self-harm and controlling behavior. The claims made by the boyfriend appear to be true. Additionally, Joanne has a history of similar behaviors in the past.

Main Diagnosis

A diagnosis that appears to be most in line with the present symptoms is obsessive love disorder. The condition is characterized by a strong emotional attachment to one’s partner, often resulting in controlling, manipulative, or self-damaging behaviors (Cherney, 2018). As seen with Joanne’s case, the woman clearly feels strong emotions for her partner, not wanting to see them with others and feeling unfulfilled outside of their interactions.

Differential Diagnosis

Other potential diagnoses include borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder. The former condition is characterized by difficulty in controlling emotion, including strong emotional reactions that remain over long periods of time (Cherney, 2018). Feelings of strong attachment, then, could come from an inability to properly control one’s emotions. Alternatively, bipolar disorder is also characterized by changes in mood and extreme mood variations (Cherney, 2018). The difference in feelings of hopelessness noted by the boyfriend, when compared to the controlling attitudes Joanne exhibits in their relationship, can be a sign of bipolar disorder.

Target Symptoms

  • Feelings of hopelessness or emptiness outside of being with a partner
  • Jealousy over partner interacting with others
  • Manipulative and controlling behavior
  • Self-harm and threats of suicide

Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests

The Mood Disorder Questionnaire can be used to check for and diagnose Joanne’s disorder. The approach is most commonly used for understanding both bipolar and borderline personality disorder.

Treatment Plan

Mood-regulating medication, anti-anxiety medication, antidepressants, and antipsychotics may be necessary for stabilizing Joanne’s condition (Cherney, 2018). In addition, it will be productive to appoint a therapist to help Joanne better process her emotions in a healthy way.


Cherney, K. (2018). Obsessive love disorder: Symptoms, what it is, causes, and more. Healthline. Web.

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PsychologyWriting. "Symptoms of Obsessive Love Disorder." April 3, 2023.