Some have argued that it is inherited, whilst others have said that life events can cause it. What this suggests is that genetics may not be the only cause of OCD (if at all), and  that family prevalence of OCD could be learned behaviours in some cases. This does not imply that OCD is caused by stress, but rather that stress can act as a trigger of OCD or prolong the symptoms once the disorder has developed. Some mental health researchers have encouraged us to think of research on brain scans and similar  as indicating that OCD is  linked to a genetic or biological cause. Mental health medications. However, getting treatment as soon as possible may help prevent OCD from worsening and disrupting activities and your daily routine. National Institute of Mental Health. During the 50s and 60s researchers reported the successful behaviour treatment of two cases of chronic obsessional neurosis (a forerunner for the Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder name), followed by a series of successful case reports. The cause of obsessive-compulsive disorder isn't fully understood. OCD is a chronic condition that causes uncontrollable and recurring thoughts called obsessions, along with compulsive behaviors the patient feels must be repeated. However, there are plenty of theories surrounding the potential causes of OCD, involving one of or a combination of either; neurobiological, genetic, learned behaviours, pregnancy, environmental factors or specific events that trigger the disorder in a specific individual at a particular point in time. There is also research to suggest that OCD could be hereditary. No one knows exactly what causes obsessive-compulsive disorder, though there is evidence of a genetic component. OCD often centers around certain themes — for example, an excessive fear of getting contaminated by germs. It is thought that the body’s natural response to infection, the production of certain antibodies, when directed to parts of the brain might be linked in some way to Paediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders associated with Streptococcal Infection (PANDAS). There are multiple probable causes that could cause it. Continued practice led to the extinction of anxiety. This theory is now quite rightly disregarded due to the failure of psychoanalytic therapy to treat OCD. The precise nature of the compulsions and obsessions is unique. If your obsessions and compulsions are affecting your quality of life, see your doctor or mental health professional. These approaches have focused on one particular neurotransmitter, serotonin. These obsessions and compulsions interfere with daily activities and cause significant distress. As you can see there is a range of factors have been identified as contributing to the cause of OCD, and there is still a great deal of theoretical contention surrounding the definitive cause. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/index.shtml. There are many theories about what causes of OCD, although biological and genetic causes have gained the most acceptance. It seems, however, that there is more to the disorder than simply genes. What causes OCD? The repeated misinterpretation of intrusive thoughts leads to the development of the obsessions and because the thoughts are so distressing, the individual engages in compulsive behaviour to try to resist, block, or neutralise the obsessive thoughts. The cognitive-behavioural theory builds on behavioural theory as it begins with an identical proposition that obsessional thinking has its origins in normal intrusive cognitions. These areas of the brain become relevant and ‘switched on’ in particular environments where the person is worrying. The risk of developing OCD increases when people experience more undesirable life-events and less desirable life-events [2]. 2. Some theories suggest that OCD is caused by personal experience. At the same time, they have found that OCD has a strong genetic component. © 1998-2021 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). Around the same time in the early seventies other researchers developed treatment methods in which exposure to feared situations was the central feature. Accessed Sept. 3, 2019. Check out these best-sellers and special offers on books and newsletters from Mayo Clinic. National Institute for Health Research – Highlight on OCD (External Website), NICE Guidelines for the treatment of OCD and BDD (External Website), Book: Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for OCD (External Website). Stress can, however, be a factor in triggering OCD in someone who is predisposed to it, and OCD symptoms can worsen in times of severe stress. Mayo Clinic. Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder or any other medical condition. Stress or trauma can cause the symptoms of OCD. OCD, usually considered a lifelong disorder, can have mild to moderate symptoms or be so severe and time-consuming that it becomes disabling. We have lots of ways to donate to OCD-UK, some of the common ways are listed to the right. If left untreated, everyday anxiety and stress in a person’s life will worsen symptoms in OCD. It would generally be a combination of factors including the following: Biological/Genetic: Genetically inherited genes are thought to play a role in the development of the brain. Support for the use of this method came from a series of experiments in which it was demonstrated that, when a ritual is provoked, discomfort and the urge to ritualise spontaneously subside when no rituals (compulsions) take place. Research has shown a connection between a history of physical or sexual abuse in childhood and the development of OCD, and other childhood traumas may also be a risk factor for the development of the disorder. In more recent years some researchers have argued that the most robust evidence for the serotonin hypothesis is the specificity of serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRI) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medication. Learn more about the recommended treatments for OCD, including how to access NHS or private treatment. This could mean that serotonin is an important neurotransmitter involved in the maintenance of OCD, if not a specific cause. This website uses cookies to improve your experience while you navigate through the website. "Mayo," "Mayo Clinic," "MayoClinic.org," "Mayo Clinic Healthy Living," and the triple-shield Mayo Clinic logo are trademarks of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. life events – OCD may be more common in people who have been bullied, abused or neglected, and it sometimes starts after an important life event, such as childbirth or a bereavement personality – neat, meticulous, methodical people with high personal standards may be more likely to develop OCD, also people who are generally quite anxious or have a very strong sense of responsibility for themselves … This theory could be further questioned based on speaking to identical twins where one will have OCD and the other has no anxiety problem at all. These differing approaches were subsequently incorporated into a highly effective programme of behavioural treatment incorporating the principles of what we now refer to as exposure and response prevention (ERP). Merck Manual Professional Version. You may or may not realize that your obsessions and compulsions are excessive or unreasonable, but they take up a great deal of time and interfere with your daily routine and social, school or work functioning. Some researchers believe that this theory questions the biological theory because people may be born with a biological predisposition to OCD but never develop the full disorder, while others are born with the same predisposition but, when subject to sufficient learning experiences, develop OCD. https://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/Obsessive-Compulsive-Disorder-In-Children-And-Adolescents-060.aspx. In spite of a range of theories and considerable research, scientists so far have not been able to identify a definitive cause for why a person develops  Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Causes of OCD . Deep brain stimulation for obsessive compulsive disorder: Evolution of surgical stimulation target parallels changing model of dysfunctional brain circuits. You also have the option to opt-out of these cookies. Accessed Sept. 4, 2019. This section has lots of information, advice and features to help during this time. An individual who experiences an intrusive obsessi… Doubting and having difficulty tolerating uncertainty, Aggressive or horrific thoughts about losing control and harming yourself or others, Unwanted thoughts, including aggression, or sexual or religious subjects, Fear of being contaminated by touching objects others have touched, Doubts that you've locked the door or turned off the stove, Intense stress when objects aren't orderly or facing a certain way, Images of driving your car into a crowd of people, Thoughts about shouting obscenities or acting inappropriately in public, Avoidance of situations that can trigger obsessions, such as shaking hands, Checking doors repeatedly to make sure they're locked, Checking the stove repeatedly to make sure it's off, Silently repeating a prayer, word or phrase, Arranging your canned goods to face the same way, Excessive time spent engaging in ritualistic behaviors, Health issues, such as contact dermatitis from frequent hand-washing, Difficulty attending work, school or social activities. Each presentation of obsessive-compulsive disorder is different. Bacterial Infections. Stress or traumatic situations. Symptoms of OCD often first occur before adulthood, and they often seem to be triggered by stress. Genetics. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. It’s common to see and hear mental health professionals describing the cause of OCD in terms of a ‘biochemical imbalance’. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression/index.shtml. OCD affects about 1.2% of adults and is sometimes diagnosed in childhood. Despite efforts to ignore or get rid of bothersome thoughts or urges, they keep coming back. Click the tab above to view the entire section contents. De novo classification request for Brainsway Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation System. No one’s sure yet what causes OCD — there are lots of different theories. https://www.fda.gov/drugs/postmarket-drug-safety-information-patients-and-providers/suicidality-children-and-adolescents-being-treated-antidepressant-medications. Antidepressant discontinuation syndrome. However, these are not thought to cause OCD, but rather trigger it in someone already predisposed to the disorder. Performance of compulsions reinforces the fear and perpetuates OCD. Stress does not actually cause OCD, but major stresses or traumatic life events may precipitate the onset of OCD. This discovery and research heralded the application of psychological models to obsessions and the development of effective behavioural treatments. According to the National Institute for Mental Health, OCD affects more than 2 million adults in the United States. Scientists believe that OCD originates in the brain, and potentially has to do with abnormal function of neurotransmitters like serotonin. However, there are plenty of theories surrounding the potential causes of OCD, involving one of or a combination of either; neurobiological, genetic, learned behaviours, pregnancy, environmental factors or specific events that trigger the disorder in a specific individual at a particular point in time. OCD is likely to be a combination of cognitive, genetic, behavioural, environmental and neurobiological causes. OCDmay be a result of changes in your body's own natural chemistry or brain functions. For example, a twins study published in the 1980s (written by Carey and Gottesman in the Archives of Genetic Psychiatry) found a heritability estimate of about 80%, which means that there is a genetic link to OCD. This group believes that OCD is caused when people believe that they are personally responsible for the obsessional thoughts they experience. Obsessive-compulsive disorder in children and adolescents. https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/psychiatric-disorders/obsessive-compulsive-and-related-disorders/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd. It’s worth noting that relapse is frequently associated with the withdrawal of SSRI medications in OCD, more so than in other conditions, especially where no behavioural therapy is in place, which is yet to be fully understood. Commonly accepted in the past, but nowadays increasingly disregarded, the psychoanalytic theory suggests that OCD develops because of a person’s fixation arising from unconscious conflicts or discomfort they experienced during infancy or childhood, or the way a person interacted with his or her parents during childhood. Accessed Sept. 3, 2019. According to cognitive models, the interpretation of an intrusive thought results in a number of voluntary and involuntary reactions which each in their turn can have an impact on the strength of belief in the original interpretation. A number of other factors may play a role in the onset of OCD, including behavioral, cognitive, and environmental factors. Out of these cookies, the cookies that are categorized as necessary are stored on your browser as they are essential for the working of basic functionalities of the website. Through the accidental discovery in the late sixties of the effectiveness  of the serotonin active tricyclic antidepressant clomipramine, which did not substantially impact on serotonin, led to the serotonin hypothesis. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Overall, there is a place for SSRIs in the treatment of OCD, especially where co-morbidity is present, provided that medication remains part of informed patient choice, and combined with psychological therapy like CBT. Exactly what causes this is unknown, but abnormalities in brain structure, function, and chemistry have been observed in patients with OCD. This and other studies have raised the possibility of familial prevalence of OCD and led to a search to identify specific genetic factors that may be involved. Make a donation. Sawchuk CN (expert opinion). People of all cultures and ethnicity are affected. One probable cause could be related to an uncommon mutation in the human serotonin transporter gene (hSERT). Ultimately, you feel driven to perform compulsive acts to try to ease your stress. Such evaluations of intrusive cognitions and consequent mood changes may become part of a mood-appraisal negative spiral but would not be expected to result in compulsive behaviour. Biological causes such as genetics, brain structure and surrounding environment are considered as basic causes behind this condition, however, there is further need for research in this area. https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Obsessive-compulsive-Disorder/Overview. You can support the work of OCD-UK by becoming a member from just £2 a month. But it's also possible to have only obsession symptoms or only compulsion symptoms. biological - functional, structural or chemical abnormalities in the brain are currently being researched. Woody EZ, et al. regarding the causes of OCD. Gabriel M, et al. So yes, whilst it’s true to say that sometimes people with OCD are  found to have different brain activity, it could be argued this would be expected. Experts do not know what causes OCD, but there are various theories. Initially, it was suggested that there was a gross deficit in serotonin; when this was not actually identified, increasingly subtle abnormalities were suggested, with the evidence overall remaining implausible at best. Any use of this site constitutes your agreement to the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy linked below. OCD-UK have taken all reasonable care in compiling this information, but always recommend consulting a doctor or other suitably qualified health professional for diagnosis and treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder or any other medical condition. 2019; doi:10.1016/bs.apha.2019.04.003. A 1998 finding implicated the basal ganglia as a key brain region in OCD with the discovery that in a sub-group of children with OCD the disorder may have been triggered by infections. A recovery focused charity. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Biological Theories Biological causes of OCD study the circuit relay system between the orbitofrontal cortex, which is responsible for complex behaviors such as emotion regulation, evaluation, reward-based decision-making, and other goal-directed behavior, to the thalamus. An important contribution to the development of ERP was the observation that the occurrence of obsessions leads to an increase in anxiety, and that the compulsions lead to its subsequent attenuation. Sufferers have developed avoidance behaviours (such as obsessional checking and washing), which prevent the extinction of anxiety. However there has been no specific gene linked to OCD… It has been speculated that there might be several kinds of OCD and that, in particular, OCD that starts in childhood may be different from that which begins in adulthood. 3. In some cases the condition may run in families, and may be linked to certain inherited genes that affect the brain's development. Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. We'll assume you're ok with this. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) care at Mayo Clinic. 17 causes of ocd essay examples from academic writing company EliteEssayWriters. Stress and parenting styles are environmental factors that have been blamed for causing OCD, but no evidence is yet to show that. It also needs to be remembered that many sufferers do not identify OCD anywhere else in their family, or even other anxiety problems. A single copy of these materials may be reprinted for noncommercial personal use only. However, despite most of the above theories offering compelling and highly informative insights, it’s a possibility that a combination of the theories may eventually be identified as the actual cause of OCD and that it is likely that for any given person a number of factors are involved. 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