OCD – Causes & Effects

Table of Contents

What causes Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Like many other mental disorders, the exact causes of OCD are not yet known. However, recent studies into those affected by OCD have suggested that genetics and brain differences play a role. The environment of the individual is also crucial in determining the cause of OCD, posing a risk factor. 


Ongoing research suggests that people with first-degree relatives (such as a parent, sibling, or child) who have OCD are at a higher risk for developing OCD themselves. The risk is higher if the first-degree relative developed OCD as a child or teen. Genes, however, are only partly responsible for the development of the disorder. 

Brain Structure

Imaging studies have shown differences in the frontal cortex and subcortical structures of the brain in patients with OCD. There appears to be a connection between OCD symptoms and abnormalities in certain areas of the brain. 


Some studies have also shown a relationship between childhood trauma and OCD, but there is no concrete information yet.

What are the Effects of OCD?

OCD is unlikely to go away if ignored and left untreated. While it is a treatable mental disorder, many do not receive the proper diagnosis and treatment, which may lead to certain long term effects, like:

  1. Poor interpersonal relationships
  2. Inability to attend school, or go to work
  3. Difficulty maintaining employment
  4. Financial distress
  5. Social isolation
  6. Poor overall quality of life
  7. Substance abuse
  8. Dermatitis (due to frequent washing)
  9. Hoarding
  10. Suicidal thoughts and behaviours

Are you born with OCD?

While the exact causes of OCD are still not known, there are certain genetic underpinnings to the development of this disorder. However, genetics alone are only partly responsible, and the causes are usually a combination of genes and the environment of the individual. There is no definite age recognition for OCD.

What triggers OCD?

OCD can be triggered by excessive trauma or stress at any age, especially in those predisposed to develop the condition due to genetic factors and their brain structure.. Recent studies have shown a link between childhood trauma and OCD, too. Increased pressure to perform in school and at work might also trigger OCD.

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