Why do I have OCD? – Causes and risks

Why do I have OCD? This is a question that I am sure every OCD sufferer has already wondered about and the answer to it is much more complicated than you would imagine.

First of all, the cause of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is not fully understood so if you start googling it you’ll find a lot of different theories and some of them will totally contradict each other. In this post, I’m trying to list the ones that are widely accepted and that actually make sense.

Biology

Chemical and functional abnormalities in the brain – I have been reading about this a lot and it has something to do with a hormone called serotonin, but as I am not a biology expert, I’m just sharing a link with you that gives you slightly more information on this:
https://www.futuremedicine.com/doi/full/10.2217/14796708.3.5.589

Genetic and hereditary factors

OCD runs in families: if your grandparents, parents or siblings have it, you’re much more likely to have it. This sounds pretty sad, does not it?
In my case, this is totally true: I am not the only one in my family who’s suffering from OCD – a few of my family members have it too and this is one of the main reasons why it was very difficult for me to get a proper diagnosis. I have always had a very strong relationship with my parents so it was not a challenge for me to tell them about my intrusive thoughts and compulsions. The only issue was that they used to think it was something very common and perfectly healthy. Generations of our family have lived their life with OCD . So if our great-grandmother had it, we can have it too, right? (I should not even mention that at the time of my diagnosis, my family members did not use to know that this condition had been called OCD – they thought it was just “stress” or some “minor anxiety”.)

Other risk factors

Overprotective parents

Parents should take care of their children, but some of them just worry too much. If you grow up believing that the world is a dangerous place (because that’s what your parents keep telling you), you’re much more likely to develop a lot of different fears. I guess my overprotective family is definitely one of the reasons behind my anxiety issues.
And it’s absolutely not their fault: an upper middle class family of aristocratic background goes bankrupt, so they’re forced to move to one of the creepiest neighborhoods in the city with their school age kid. Now this is pretty difficult even without any anxiety disorders – but with one parent already suffering from OCD, this is an instant disaster.

Perfectionist parents

It is not necessarily a bad thing to be perfectionist, but constant stress about being perfect is definitely not okay on the long term. Especially if you’re a child. While perfectionism on it’s own is very unlikely to cause OCD, growing up in a perfectionist family can definitely make your OCD much worse. Thanks God, my family and me are far from being perfectionist so at least I did not have this risk factor.

Parents who find it difficult to express their feelings

It’s very important for every kid to grow up in a loving family where they feel they can express their emotions. Now, being raised in a family that does not like expressing their feelings – or in one that even thinks that one should be ashamed of crying or afraid to love others – is definitely not the best thing for an already anxious child.

Alcoholism in family

I am sure that for most of you, this does not come as a surprise. Having an alcoholic parent can cause a lot of psychological issues that will accompany you forever.

And one more that I personally believe is a risk factor: Teenage Alcohol Abuse

I have not found any research data on this topic, but I have a few friends who are suffering from OCD and one thing that we have in common is: teenage alcohol abuse.
Now you may say that we started drinking because we had OCD and we wanted to ease the symptoms – but believe me, for most of us, that was not the case. OCD symptoms can begin at a very young age, but I can tell you one thing: I was definitely not suffering from OCD in my early teens.
I do not say that teenage alcohol abuse is the reason behind anxiety disorders, but I do believe that it’s a huge risk factor. And this is a risk factor that is very hard to fight, especially for those who come from a culture where teenage drinking is considered to be cool.

Please share your thoughts

If you know your enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of hundred battles: please feel free to share in the comment section anything that you think might be a risk factor for OCD.
And please do not hesitate to share your personal stories and experiences, because as you know there’s one thing that I enjoy more than sharing my ideas: reading yours! 🙂

Mark Wester

9 thoughts on “Why do I have OCD? – Causes and risks

  1. Interesting and informative post!

    I was under the impression that stress, while not a cause per se, made all the symptoms worse or appear more frequently. That was certainly true for my son! His OCD took me by surprise, as there was no one else in the family who suffered from it (that I know of).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! Actually stress is another one that I think should be included in the list – me too I feel that it gets worse when I am stressed.
      It is good to hear that you are there to support your son with his OCD – this is something that really matters. And it would be interesting to know how OCD appears just like that in families where no one else has it. Lets hope one day scientists will come up with more info 🙂

      Oh and Merry Christmas! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I wonder about the chicken and the egg of some of these relationships. From my own experience, I know that my substance abuse most likely stemmed from self medicating my OCD. And because OCD is hereditary, possibly alcoholism in prior generations may have been an attempt to medicate OCD as well. Another “cause” is neurological conditions such as Tourette and autism. OCD, anxiety and a lot of other charming traits accompany these disorders. I’m not sure I’ve ever sat back and wondered why me. If I did, I might point to the drinking and smoking my mother did during her (early sixties) pregnancy. I blame that for everything including vision and hearing impairment and crappy teeth.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. These are very interesting points actually because indeed: its like the chicken and the egg.
      At the beginning of my OCD journey I was desperate to figure out why it was me having it because I was hoping that this whole thing happens because of one simple reason – like I do something or eat something that is responsible for this – and then i could just stop doing it and everything would be fine. But then I had to realize that is much more complicated than that.
      In my case, teenage drinking was definitely not for medicating OCD – at that time, I was feeling kind of okay. I used to drink because that was the expectation of the society (sounds crazy but then we know what teenage years are like)
      Ah yes, drinking and smoking during pregnancy is probably one of the other risk factors 😦
      But at the end of the day the bright side is that both of us are getting better 🙂

      Oh and Merry Christmas! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sometimes they think a strep germ can cause it in some children. Sometimes women who were subclinical develop OCD postpartum. I think in my own case, it’s a mixture of birth defect and hereditary/biology.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Lisa

      Thank you very much for sharing: yes, i do agree with you that strep germ can also be another thing to blame 😦
      In my case it is also very likely to be hereditary – i can only hope that i will not pass it on to my future children.

      Merry Christmas!

      Mark

      Like

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