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Who Does OCD Affect?

By: Sally Aquire - Updated: 21 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Ocd Symptoms Obsessive Compulsive

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) can affect both men and women, and tends to do so in equal numbers.

Despite this, there are certain patterns regarding behaviour and obsession within obsessive compulsive disorder that are related to either gender. This article looks at whether OCD and its symptoms are more likely to some people rather than others.

When Does OCD Occur?

Although technically OCD can occur at any age, research from America suggests that there are patterns regarding the age at which the symptoms first occur. For males, OCD is more likely to occur in childhood and adolescence, while for girls, it tends to occur in the latter part of the teenage years and early adulthood.

According to the PsychNet-UK website, around a third of OCD sufferers develop the condition by the age of fifteen. Regardless of the age at which OCD occurs, the effects will usually persist for much of your life, although the severity of the symptoms may vary.

Are Some People More Likely to Develop OCD Than Others?

As OCD is an anxiety disorder, it is not surprising that many OCD sufferers first develop symptoms of OCD during periods of stress and anxiety.

Many of the various obsessions, compulsions and general behaviour associated with OCD are a way of trying to cope with this anxiety, although they often cause more anxiety and distress in the long term.

Experts do not currently have enough evidence to suggest that OCD is a genetically inherited condition, although research is being conducted to determine whether this is the case.

However, a study looking at the SLC1A1 gene (which regulates the flow of glutamate into and out of the brain cells) has indicated that a variation in the gene may have an effect on whether or not you develop OCD. This has yet to be officially confirmed.

OCD often runs in families, but different family members frequently develop different OCD symptoms to each other, and at different times in their lives.

For example, you may develop symptoms such as compulsive hand washing and fears of contamination during childhood, while one of your parents may have developed symptoms of compulsive hoarding during early adulthood. Some research has indicated that if a close relative is diagnosed with OCD, your chances of being diagnosed can increase by up to nine times.

OCD can develop at any stage in your life though,and it is particularly common for this to be the case during stressful periods. For some people, the obsessive and compulsive behaviour associated with OCD will pass, but for others, it is a condition that has a big effect on the rest of your life.

Most people will experience some degree of OCD and its symptoms at some point in their lives, particularly during times of stress. While this may not affect behaviour for any great length of time, it will often present itself in the obsession or compulsion side of obsessive compulsive disorder.

Generally speaking, it is just as likely to affect men as women. The exact causes of OCD are still something of a mystery, but there is evidence to suggest that the condition may be genetic.

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