ZocdocAnswersWhat are the causes of OCD?

Question

What are the causes of OCD?

I am a 29 year old male with OCD. What causes the severity of my condition to fluctuate?

Answer

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a type of anxiety disorder that is actually fairly common, occurring in probably 2 or 3 percent of the United States population. It is characterized by intrusive thoughts and compulsions, often leading to repetitive behaviors (such as frequent hand washing, checking the locks on the doors, etc). The severity of these symptoms is quite variable and in some people they can very significantly impair social functioning. Obsessive compulsive disorder is generally a chronic disease, with probably up to two thirds of patients continuing to have symptoms for most of their lives. As such, the severity of the symptoms may wax and wane, as you are describing, with periods of relatively good control of thoughts and compulsions followed by periods of poorer control. It is not entirely clear what causes these fluctuations. In part, they are associated with times of worsening stress, and so people with the disorder should find ways to control their stress levels to prevent worsening of symptoms. They may also be associated with not regularly taking prescribed medications, if those are needed, or attended support groups or therapy sessions, if you are involved in those. You should try to follow any instructions your psychiatrist gives you as closely as possible.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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