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As per the American Psychiatric Association, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a widespread mental health disease that affects over 1 percent of the population. It has the potential to change people’s life by producing undesirable obsessions and thoughts that are difficult to control. Trauma, abuse, and stress can all exacerbate OCD symptoms.

OCD is characterized by strong desires to accomplish a task or conduct a routine. Obsessions or compulsions can take over a person’s life if they have the disorder. Repetitive hand washing, checking if doors are secured, or obsessively repeating a sentence or prayer are all typical practices. OCD symptoms usually occur progressively and become increasingly difficult to manage over time. Knowing how to cope with OCD and the many types of OCD will help you avoid it getting worse.

In this article, we will go over some of the consequences of not treating OCD sooner rather than later, as well as measures to keep it from growing worse.

Symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder can progress and worsen with time. Symptoms vary in intensity and frequency, and you may notice a rise in them during highly stressful moments in your life. Even if symptoms appear early in life, for most individuals, managing OCD obsessions and compulsions becomes more difficult as the disorder worsens. Impulses or compulsions can take the form of one or more of the following:

  • A strong desire to maintain everything in order
  • There’s a strong need for everything to be symmetrical.
  • Anxiety about dirt or contamination
  • Terrifying images or ideas of self-harm or hurting others.
  • Unwelcome aggressive thoughts.
  • Inadvertent and very unpleasant sexual aggressiveness or subject ideas

Conditions that may aggravate OCD

What aggravates OCD? There are a variety of situations that might set off an OCD episode, as well as disorders (referred to as comorbidities) that can affect how serious your OCD is.

In reality, comorbidities are the primary cause of OCD aggravation. It’s estimated that 90 percent of those with OCD also suffer from other mental illnesses. These other disorders can exacerbate the severity of OCD. Among them are the following:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Disorders of impulse control
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) 
  • Mood disturbances
  • Major depressive disorder (MDD)
  • Anxiety about social situations
  • Tic disorder
  • Disorders caused by substance abuse
  • Hypochondriasis

It’s highly common for unmanaged OCD to deteriorate as comorbidities and illnesses get more severe. This is particularly true if someone engages in compulsive behavior with the goal of alleviating anxiety.

It’s difficult to predict when, how, or even whether OCD symptoms will emerge more frequently because everyone’s illness is different and OCD is highly individualized. The fact that OCD has numerous unofficial subcategories increases the difficulty. OCD can manifest itself in a variety of ways, including just-right OCD, contamination OCD, damage OCD, counting OCD, and more.

However, one thing is clear: comorbidities, anxiety, stress, and big life events or situations can all have a significant impact on how bad OCD gets.

People with OCD could also feel the following as their symptoms worsen:

  • Workplace and/or academic failure
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Depression
  • Isolation
  • Panic episodes are becoming more frequent.
  • Exhaustion on all levels: emotional, physical, and mental
  • Suicide or self-harming thoughts

Although schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are two separate disorders, research has suggested that they are related.

The lead author of one research report, Sandra M. Meier, Ph.D., of Aarhus University in Denmark, points out that both illnesses have comparable prevalence rates and that beginning occurs in early adulthood or adolescence in both cases. Furthermore, they claim that previous research has found substantial similarities in the etiology and pathophysiology of schizophrenia and OCD.

It is thus concluded that obsessive-compulsive disorder and schizophrenia symptoms coexist in a higher subset of patients than would be expected by chance. The authors cite a meta-analysis that found that 23 percent of schizophrenia patients also had Obsessive-compulsive disorder. However, according to the researchers, few studies have looked into the long-term link between these two illnesses.

In light of this, Meier and her colleagues looked at the link between schizophrenia and OCD by data analysis from Danish national registries covering over 3 million persons born between 1955 and 2006. They have been followed up from 1995 through 2012. OCD and schizophrenia phenotypes are “more frequent than currently recognized.

The researchers discovered that 447 (2.75 percent) of the 16,231 people who developed schizophrenia had previously been diagnosed with OCD. Furthermore, 700 (2.29 percent) of the 30,556 patients who developed schizophrenia spectrum disorder – identified as having one or more of the signs linked with schizophrenia – had previously been diagnosed with OCD.

The results indicate that a past diagnosis of OCD may be connected to a higher chance of developing schizophrenia later in life, according to the researchers. Furthermore, the researchers discovered that people with OCD parents had a higher risk of developing schizophrenia.

Other characteristics that may enhance schizophrenia risk, like family history or personal history of mental illnesses, had no effect on these findings. Regardless of the fact that several etiological variables link OCD to schizophrenia and schizophrenia spectrum disorders, the researchers stress the diseases should not be lumped together as a single diagnosis.

The researchers acknowledge that their study has certain limitations. For example, some people may have had psychotic schizophrenia symptoms but had not yet been diagnosed, which could have influenced the findings. The authors further mention that in Denmark, it takes an average of one year for people with schizophrenia to acquire adequate therapy.

They also note that patients identified with OCD, schizophrenia, and schizophrenia spectrum disorders were based only on routinely collected clinical data, which could be inaccurate.

People who suffer from OCD are more prone to developing other mental illnesses. Major depressive disorder (MDD) is one of the most frequent.

According to studies, as many as two-thirds of individuals with OCD will suffer from a significant depressive episode at some point during their condition. The causes can range from reactionary stress to compulsive or obsessive behaviors to mood and behavior-altering physiological changes in the brain.

Depression can be particularly notable in people with OCD as it might impact their ability to stick to the management of their OCD symptoms. Depression usually follows the beginning of OCD symptoms in patients with OCD; the opposite is not true. This implies that sadness could be linked to the personal stresses of life with OCD, as well as problems that have arisen at home or at work as a result of the disorder. Secure attachment, on the other hand, appears to guard against depression.

Biological and neurochemical factors may also play a role in depression, according to scientists. Variations in the biosynthesis and function of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that transmits impulses between nerve cells, are known to be associated with OCD and MDD.

Associative behavioral changes can accompany biological alterations, and some of these are shared by people with MDD and OCD. As a result, OCD may just exacerbate an underlying physiological imbalance, perpetuating MDD.

Most data also implies that depressive symptoms are more closely associated with unpleasant obsessions (bad thoughts that won’t go away) than compulsions (uncontrollable behaviors).

There is a recognized link between OCD and stressful life situations. It is also known that stress does not cause OCD on its own. Stress is thought to trigger OCD, but only in persons who are biologically predisposed to it.

Close relatives are more likely to get OCD if they are faced with stressful life situations if one family member has the illness. Many persons with OCD said they had a higher number of traumatic situations the year before they started to develop OCD symptoms, according to researchers.

OCD is known to be triggered by a variety of stressful experiences. It is thought that relational trauma like neglect or emotional abuse, family violence, sexual abuse, or disordered parenting practices (overprotective, rejection, neglect) are connected with OCD. Non-interpersonal trauma, like witnessing a crime or being exposed to a natural catastrophe, is not known to provoke OCD.

Pre-existing OCD can be exacerbated by stressful life situations. If you suffer from OCD, you may discover that your symptoms worsen when you are under more stress than usual. Your intrusive compulsive thoughts have suddenly gotten stronger and are much harder to manage. You may find it much more difficult to leave home than normal since you need to double-check everything. You have much less strength to disregard your OCD thoughts while you are already in a high-anxiety condition.

Effective coping mechanisms, including those that help during times of elevated stress, are essential for people with OCD. Sadly, many OCD sufferers have not fully acquired their stress-coping abilities. As a result, OCD sufferers frequently have trouble merely getting through the day at home, at work, and at school.

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