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Do People With OCD Know They Have It & Is OCD Genetic?

The medical fraternity formerly believed that OCD or Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a form of anxiety. But recent clinical studies have led to believe it as a unique psychological problem when people perform the same task or behavior in an endless cycle. Patients with this disorder become obsessed with certain ideas and repeat them constantly. It is considered as a type of anxiety because the urge arising out of fear and there is a disturbing thought causing nervousness.(1)

Do People With OCD Know They Have It & Is OCD Genetic?

Recent studies have highlighted the role of biological and environmental factors causing obsessive-compulsive disorder, but the exact causes remain unknown. Researchers believe that people suffer from OCD when the front of their brain fails to communicate with deeper structures. Serotonin acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain. It has been observed that cognitive-behavioral therapy and drugs that improve serotonin levels, reduce symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder by completing brain circuits. Clinical studies also highlight that OCD runs in families.

Clinical studies also indicate that OCD in adults and children may vary greatly. The genetic nature of the disease is thought to play a major role when obsessive-compulsive disorder begins in childhood (45–65%), but its role is rather limited to adulthood (27–47%).

Clearly, specific genes are likely to be related to the onset of OCD. However, researchers believe that there must be some additional factors that trigger OCD-associated genes. But it is still unknown exactly what factors are responsible for this. This may stress the activity of the genes responsible for triggering signs of OCD. These triggers may include lifestyle changes or some illness that induces-compulsive disorder.(1)

How To Treat Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

Whatever may be the cause of OCD, but one thing is certain that once triggered it will not forgive you unless you seek proper treatment. To date, obsessive-compulsive disorder medications provide the most effective line of treatment in combination with cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Exposure and response prevention is one such approach that provides relief. In this therapy, people with OCD are gradually exposed to their feared objects or obsessive thoughts and trained to manage their anxiety in a healthy way. You understand that your urges or thoughts as unwanted, can lead you to a better quality of life by practicing the techniques of exposure therapy.

Medications that work include OCD anti-depressants (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). Some antipsychotic drugs also produce good results. However, these drugs, especially psychiatric drugs may cause serious side effects like sleep disturbance, stomach upset, sweating, and sexual inactivity. The anti-depressants, although considered quite safe, can induce suicidal thoughts in growing children and adolescents. Their prescriptions are thus strictly regulated.(2)(3)(4)

The obsessive-compulsive disorder makes it difficult for people with a certain behavior or routine to stop or control their obsessive thoughts. They perform it under compulsion to do it right. It is their concern or the associated nervousness that they have to perform these repetitive behaviors or routines.

Although the behavior may temporarily alleviate anxiety, the person must return to the behavior again when obsessive thoughts. This OCD cycle can progress to the point of taking over the person’s day to day activities and interfering with normal life. People with OCD may be aware that their urges and compulsions are silly or unrealistic, but they cannot stop them.

Symptoms Of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder causes anxiety or distress to prevent or persistently relieve unwanted recurring urges or images. People with OCD repeatedly feel a deep compulsion to perform certain behaviors to relieve their obsessive thought process. These unwanted compulsions interfere with their normal thought processes or activities.

Most often, people with OCD suffer from the following urges:

  • Feeling contaminated with germs and an intense urge to get cleaned.
  • Feeling disorganized with an intense urge to keep things orderly and symmetrically
  • Seems that someone out there harms oneself or others with an unwanted urge for safety.
  • Horrific or unwanted thoughts, including thoughts related to religion, aggression or sexual matters.(2)

Symptoms Of Obsessions

Apparently, these obsessions force them to do some repetitive behavior to reduce the pressure buildup by recursively relating their passion to the thought process. They seek to prevent or to resolve issues related to their passion, but repeated behaviors or practices only provide temporary relief from their persistently disturbed thought process.

Compulsions are related to obsessive thought processes and mainly include the following activities:

  • Repeated counting
  • Checking up
  • Washing and cleaning
  • Demand for assurance
  • Follow a strict routine
  • Demand to maintain discipline(3)


  1. Genetics IOCDF, Arnold PD, Askland KD, et al. Revealing the complex genetic architecture of obsessive–compulsive disorder using meta-analysis. Molecular psychiatry. 2018;23(5):1181.
  2. Hirschtritt ME, Bloch MH, Mathews CA. Obsessive-compulsive disorder: advances in diagnosis and treatment. Jama. 2017;317(13):1358-1367.
  3. De Putter LM, Van Yper L, Koster EH. Obsessions and compulsions in the lab: A meta-analysis of procedures to induce symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Clinical psychology review. 2017;52:137-147.
  4. McGuire JF, Piacentini J, Lewin AB, Brennan EA, Murphy TK, Storch EA. A meta‐analysis of cognitive behavior therapy and medication for child obsessive–compulsive disorder: Moderators of treatment efficacy, response, and remission. Depression and anxiety. 2015;32(8):580-593.

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:January 10, 2020

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