Which Came First……

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?

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10 Responses to Which Came First……

  1. Tina says:

    I think the more we can learn, the better, even if it’s not going to help me personally.
    I have read about the theory that some people seem more predisposed than others to have OCD, and stressful events can kind of get it going. I also see some genetic components.
    Perhaps with more knowledge about what causes OCD, we can help people going through stressful periods in ways that could lessen the chance of aftereffects like OCD. And the more we learn about treatment, the better off so many people will be.

    • ocdtalk says:

      I agree with everything you say TIna. I called the post I referenced about Dan “The Perfect Storm” because it just seems to me that all of the right (or should I say wrong!) factors you mention were all aligned to kickstart OCD. Thanks for commenting!

  2. 71 & Sunny says:

    Interesting question. More knowledge about the root cause of OCD is definitely a good thing. Wouldn’t it be awesome if some day all pediatricians would have an understanding of what to look for before anxiety disorders really developed in kids? I guess I can dream. It does seem like OCD could be caused by multiple things – stressful events, strep throat in kids, and/or heredity. Since I’ve begun treatment and have reduced some symptoms my own stress has come down significantly, so I can relate to that.

  3. Lolly says:

    Very thought provoking! This is very interesting,

  4. Add in there the genetic pre-disposition towards OCD too. I think some people just tend to be more resilient towards stress. Maybe those of us with “OCD prone” brains – are more suceptible. I do agree that stress makes OCD worse….and I think due to my family dynamics as I was growing up – my life could possibly be called “stressful” – but do I remember one or two “stressful events”? Not really.

  5. ocdtalk says:

    Interesting thought……differentiating between “stressful events” and an overall “stressful environment.” And of course genetic predisposition can play a part in the development of OCD…..good idea for another post 🙂
    Thanks for your insights!

  6. Suzane says:

    I agree with you in everything. (I’m a brazilian girl, and my english is not that good, (sorry) but I’ve found this blog and I liked it so much.
    The way you talk to, its very enlightening for me.
    I feel the need to understand more about OCD always, I feel that the more I understand, more I’ll be able to help myself.

  7. ocdtalk says:

    Thank you for your kind words Suzane, and your English is fine! I agree that the more we can all understand OCD, the better off we will be.

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