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Is It True That OCD Is Hereditary?

Is It True That OCD Is Hereditary?

OCD is a mental health condition that can deeply impact your life. It leads many of us to wonder what we did to bring this condition on. Your online research may have brought up the questions – is OCD hereditary?

OCD Definition

We all feel anxiety sometimes, a feeling of trepidation that turns out to be your natural reaction to stress. It may be passed on by several circumstances, like making a crucial decision, an upcoming exam, or starting new employment.

“If someone is living with an anxiety disorder like OCD, these feelings don’t go away and often develop into symptoms that, if untreated, can interfere with relationships, job performance, schoolwork, and even basic functioning.”

Risk Factors

  • Your family history. Having parents or other blood relatives with the disorder can boost your risk of developing obsessive-compulsive disorder.
  • Traumatic life events. If you’ve survived demanding or stressful incidents, your risk may rise. This reaction could, for some reason, launch the intrusive thoughts, emotional distress, and rituals linked to OCD.
  • Other mental health illnesses. OCD links to other mental health ailments, such as anxiety disorders, bipolar, depression, substance abuse, or social anxiety

Who’s Affected?

Millions of people globally are affected by obsessive-compulsive disorder. Some research indicates that about one in 40 U.S adults (or nearly 2.3% of the population) and one in 100 children 17 years old or younger are afflicted with the condition. Many of its symptoms can be treated with psychotherapy or other methods.

Is It True That OCD Is Hereditary?

No one knows for sure if OCD is hereditary, but it’s one of the risk factors for the condition. Before speculating on genetics or other causes, people who experience disturbing symptoms need to know what they’re facing. OCD features symptoms of:


  • Contamination
  • Loss of Control
  • Harm
  • Undesirable sexual thoughts
  • Religious and other obsessions


  • Washing and cleaning
  • Checking
  • Repeating
  • Mental and other compulsions

“The large majority of people with OCD know their obsessions and compulsions are excessive or irrational, yet they have little or no control over them. When this kind of behavior takes up a significant amount of time (at least an hour a day, but usually more), it may be symptomatic of OCD.” If you think you’re suffering from mental illness, don’t make efforts to self-diagnose – get help by scheduling an appointment with your doctor or a mental healthcare provider.

The root cause of OCD is up for debate. In one camp, many doctors and researchers firmly lean into the belief that it’s solely a neurological disorder. In the other, and in more recent years, some experts believe it could be caused by a childhood illness called PANDAS

Many people are keen to investigate the cause of their symptoms as if such information could divine clues about the “why’s” or “how’s” related to acquiring the disorder – and perhaps even peek behind the curtain to see what they could do differently to make OCD vanish. This is a pipe dream. You can’t alter the fact that you’re afflicted with OCD, but also remember that OCD isn’t contagious – no one in your family or friends’ circle will “catch it.” OCD doesn’t crop up years later because of your treatment as a child, nor is it triggered by job pressures, relationship issues, or other life-related stress (even though stress can worsen the symptoms).

Other possible causes or triggers of obsessive-compulsive disorder may include:

  • Biology, like changes in a body’s organic chemistry and brain functions.
  • There could be a genetic component, even though the specific gene is unidentified.
  • It’s a learned behavior, passed on after observing it in others, including family members.

Diagnosing & Treating OCD

The steps for diagnosing OCD are straightforward:

  • A physical exam to uncover other illnesses which may be causing your symptoms. This may involve blood or lab tests, imaging tests, or other diagnostic procedures.
  • A psychiatric evaluation where a specialist will ask about behaviors, emotions, and thoughts. You may be asked to fill out a questionnaire and answer questions about your personal or family history of mental illness.

Diagnosis often relies on comparing your symptoms to criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). Your doctor may then recommend treatment, like ketamine infusion or psychotherapy.

Final Thoughts

No matter where your OCD symptoms stem from — be that brain chemistry, family history, or traumatic events — you should know that treatment is possible. 

Are you ready to get back to being the old you? Do you miss doing the things you love the most with the people you care about? Contact our experts today and learn how we can help you take back control of your life.

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