What causes obsessive-compulsive disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder

What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a condition in which the person concerned has unwanted, persistent, and overwhelming obsessive-compulsive thoughts or actions.

The compulsions here are often caused by unrealistic concerns or fears. Many people know that their thoughts and compulsions are irrational and unrealistic, but they cannot suppress them. This can lead to significant conflicts in everyday life. Psychological treatment, such as behavior therapy, or medication can help relieve symptoms.

Triggers and causes of obsessive-compulsive disorder

The causes of obsessive-compulsive disorder are not clear, but a combination of a person's personality and life circumstances are believed to increase the likelihood of developing the condition.

Psychological stress is a risk factor, which is why events such as unemployment, divorce, or a case of childhood abuse increase the risk of developing obsessive-compulsive disorder. About two in 100 people will develop it in their lifetime. The condition affects men and women alike, and while it is most commonly diagnosed in early adulthood, it can affect people of all ages.

What are the symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

The symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder are urges and compulsions.

Compulsions are shaped by persistent and haunting thoughts. Some people describe these thoughts as a 'thought loop'. These are often the cause of worry or fear, even if the thoughts and fears are not realistic.

An urge is a strong need to take action, often against the common sense of the person concerned. These are often related to compulsion. Some people feel some kind of relief when they perform the act. Some people may need to do the act several times over time before experiencing this relief.

An urge is, for example, repeatedly washing hands, checking whether appliances are switched off, or repeatedly closing and locking doors; however, there are many possibilities of an urge. The compulsions and actions eventually interfere with normal life, especially as they last longer and become more complicated.

People with OCD often find it embarrassing, which increases their anxiety.

If you are unsure whether these symptoms apply to you, start a symptom analysis.

Investigation and diagnosis

The diagnosis is usually made by an experienced doctor or psychiatrist based on symptoms and a psychological evaluation.

It is sufficient for the diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive disorder to show either obsessive-compulsive thoughts or compulsive actions. However, many sufferers show both. A doctor should rule out any other possible cause for the symptoms before making the diagnosis.

How is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Treated?

Treatment usually includes psychotherapy and sometimes medication. A psychologist or psychiatrist can help develop strategies for identifying and breaking the circles of unwanted thoughts.

Medications can be prescribed to help people whose thoughts and compulsions are interfering with starting psychotherapy. Support groups can help cope with the diagnosis and learn strategies to manage the obsessive-compulsive disorder.

What is the prognosis for obsessive-compulsive disease?

With appropriate support and treatment, many sufferers learn to deal with the symptoms of OCD and eventually recover. Some affected people can learn to deal with the worst symptoms, while some mild symptoms may persist over the long term. These can recur, especially during stressful times.


Reliable and comprehensive support can help people with OCD identify when symptoms are coming back and seek help before they overwhelm them.