Traumatic experiences can stay with a person for the rest of their life. Even when they don’t notice it, the brain can develop defense mechanisms in response, often in the form of other mental health disorders. One such example is OCD, which can impact how a person moves throughout the day and can be debilitating for many people. But exactly how deep do these connections go? Banyan Mental Health asks the question: Can OCD cause trauma?
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a psychological condition characterized by repetitive, intrusive, and distressing thoughts, images, or impulses (obsessions) that result in repetitive and ritualistic behaviors or mental acts (compulsions). OCD affects individuals of all ages, genders, and cultural backgrounds, and can significantly impede their daily functioning, relationships, and quality of life.
Symptoms of OCD can include:
Common obsessions include fears of contamination, doubts about safety or morality, unwanted sexual or aggressive thoughts, and perfectionism, while common compulsions include excessive cleaning, checking, ordering, counting, and repeating actions or phrases. OCD is commonly treated with a combination of medication, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which utilizes exposure and response prevention (ERP) techniques to assist patients in overcoming their obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors.
Research does suggest that undergoing a traumatic experience can be a contributing factor in the development of an OCD diagnosis. A traumatic event can include living through natural disasters, sexual abuse, accidents, or neglect, amongst other factors. These are all experiences that can drastically alter a person’s overall mentality regarding life, relationships, and personal well-being.
Trauma can also exacerbate OCD symptoms by increasing anxiety levels and triggering intrusive thoughts, prompting individuals to engage in compulsive behaviors to alleviate their distress or regain a sense of control. That being said, OCD and trauma do not always coincide. Someone can live through a traumatic event, process what happened, and move on. Ultimately, in some cases, trauma can cause OCD and should be taken seriously. In any case, addressing the issues present by a mental health professional is the best and most effective course of action.
If you are struggling with obsessive-compulsive disorder as a result of a traumatic experience, our residential mental health facilities offer OCD treatment programs that can turn your life around for the better. Additionally, patients can begin to address any residual symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, ones that may have led to co-occurring disorders or other difficulties. Don’t assume that you need to face this alone. Our adult mental health services are designed to help our patients learn to make the most out of life.
Call Banyan today at 888-280-4763 to learn about our available options for mental illness treatment and how our programs can benefit you.