As it does with most mental health disorders and physical ailments, stress can exacerbate the symptoms of OCD. We all know this; after all, OCD is an anxiety disorder. A recent article on about.com mentions a study published in the Israel Journal of Psychiatric and Related Sciences. The study compared people with and without OCD and found that those with OCD had experienced more stressful life events than those who did not suffer from the disorder. (I don’t know how “stressful life events” was defined, and I would be interested in knowing that.) Additionally they determined that there was a direct correlation between the severity of OCD symptoms and the number of stressful life events. In other words, the more stress the “more” OCD.
Or could it be the other way around….the “more” OCD, the more stress? That’s the question the study doesn’t answer.
I know that many people can pinpoint one event that seemed to ignite their OCD, and I’ve talked about that possibly being the case for Dan, as well. Stress before OCD.
But OCD before stress also makes sense. Once Dan developed severe OCD, every aspect of his life suddenly included stress. School, home, relationships, activities of daily living…….you name it, it was stressful. As his OCD improved, so did the stress. A direct correlation.
Why does it even matter, which came first? Either way, what we are dealing with is a vicious circle. OCD is exacerbated by stress, and those with OCD have higher than “normal” amounts of stress. I don’t have any answers, and maybe it just depends on the individual. But it’s something to think about. I always feel that solving whatever mysteries we can surrounding OCD might somehow help us better understand and better fight this complicated disorder. What do you think?