Short answer: Yes. Obviously, of course, a query like this deserves a longer reply. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a condition that impacts up to three million Americans. OCD, as you might imagine, involves obsessions and compulsions.

For example, a person may fixate on the fear that someone they love could be in danger (obsession). Hence, they create unrelated verbal or physical rituals (compulsions) to “prevent” the worst from happening.

There is a wide array of treatment options for OCD. But it’s important to keep in mind that certain triggers can make OCD worse. To help prevent that outcome, it’s critical to know what these triggers might be.

Some Factors That Can Make OCD Worse

1. Stress

Let’s begin with a trigger that affects everyone. Stress is a challenge for all who encounter it. For people with OCD, however, stress is particularly troubling. It can cause the full range of your OCD symptoms to spiral and escalate.

There are countless stress management skills you can learn to help. For those with OCD, it is essential that these techniques work well within your OCD treatment plan. An experienced therapist is your ideal guide.

2. Comorbidities

This is a technical term for any other condition or disorder you have concurrently with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Comorbidities are a critical factor because as many as 9 out of 10 people with OCD also have other mental health conditions.

Some of the co-existing conditions that can make OCD worse are:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Mood disorders
  • Major depression disorder (MDD)
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Substance abuse

For those with OCD, the above types of conditions can result in symptoms like:

  • Panic attacks
  • Exhaustion
  • Inability to function at home, work, or school
  • Inability to stay focused
  • Depression
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide

Talk to your medical team to make certain any such conditions are not being left untreated.

man resting hands against head who looks stressed3. Perfectionism

Like all humans, a sense of self-worth is crucial to overall mental health and well-being. When you’re struggling with OCD, this dynamic can get skewed. You may be striving for perfection in how you use compulsions to quiet your obsessions. This can trigger a drop in self-worth and, in turn, exacerbate OCD symptoms. Therapy is where you can better ground yourself to avoid this possibility.

4. Contamination

This includes perceived contamination. OCD frequently manifests in a fixation on cleanliness. If the person in question feels they have been contaminated, it can set off an increase in anxiety and in compulsions. Even worse, in the eyes of someone with OCD, is losing control.

You may be someone with OCD who is compulsive about hygiene. Inevitably and despite your best perfectionist efforts, you come in contact with some type of contaminant. However, you do not have access to a sink or hand sanitizer, or anything else that can satisfy your need for cleanliness. Now what?

In a situation like this, there is a strong likelihood that your OCD symptoms will accelerate. Feeling out of control can lead to anxiety and a loss of self-esteem. The key is to be prepared in advance. This might involve the development of coping mechanisms while working hand-in-hand with a mental health professional.

Getting the Support and Knowledge You Need and Deserve

As you can probably see, yes, there are definitely factors that can make Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder worse. However, there are also concrete steps you can take to address this possibility before it even happens.

The starting point is to learn more about these triggers and their impact. There is no better venue for this effort than making a commitment to therapy. Your weekly sessions can empower, guide, and protect you in the long run. Reach out to me to see how anxiety therapy can help you manage your OCD.