What Causes OCD to Flare Up?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common mental health condition affecting nearly 3 percent of people in the United States. It’s characterized by uncontrollable obsessive thoughts and rituals that you feel compelled to repeat over and over again.

OCD, or obsessive-compulsive disorder, is a mental condition that makes it difficult to control your thoughts and behaviors. If you have OCD, you might act on various intrusive thoughts like thinking about things over and over again. If you’re suffering from OCD, you may also feel very ashamed because it interferes with daily life. Knowing what causes OCD to flare up can help you figure out ways to cope with it and relieve its symptoms. Together, these obsessions and compulsions cause significant distress or extreme interference with your normal life.

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What Causes OCD To Flare Up?

The cause of OCD is not completely understood. However, research shows that there are several factors that can contribute to developing OCD. These include:


When you’re stressed out, it can bring on the symptoms of OCD. Stress can be caused by many things, including work and family issues. It’s also frequently a result of money troubles or relationship difficulties. Stress is not the only cause that triggers OCD flare-ups; however, it does tend to play a big part in triggering them.

If your stress levels are high enough, they could even prompt you to develop an anxiety disorder that isn’t related to OCD at all like generalized anxiety disorder. In fact, it’s estimated that 80% of people with GAD also have OCD at some point during their lives so if your anxiety increases significantly over time without any other clear reasons for why this might be happening besides just being under constant pressure from external factors like family members or bosses pressuring you about deadlines then chances are pretty good there may be another underlying issue at hand here instead.

Illness Or Injury

Stress can cause the onset of OCD, and illness or injury are stressful events. If you have a chronic condition that flares up from time to time, it may be more difficult for you to manage your symptoms when they return.

Illness and injury can also be caused by OCD itself as an unwanted side effect of medication or other treatments. For example, if you take a drug that suppresses your immune system like prednisone, this could lead to an increase in infections such as colds and flu bugs that trigger anxiety or panic attacks due to their association with germs like bacteria and viruses—which are often associated with the compulsions performed by people with OCD like hand washing and disinfecting surfaces around them at home after coming into contact with anyone else who has been sick recently.

Changes In the Schedule

Change in the schedule is a common trigger for OCD. Imagine that you have a daily routine of waking up at 5:30 am, taking a shower and eating breakfast before going to work by 8:00 am. One day, your wife decides to take an extra day off from work so she can spend more time with you. She wakes up much later than usual and asks if you will take the children out on errands while she catches up on her sleep.

A change in schedule may cause a flare-up of your obsessions or compulsions if it challenges your sense of order or control over events and activities. In this example, having to wake up two hours earlier than usual may disrupt your morning routine enough to make you feel anxious about how well things will go at work the anxiety being triggered by an OCD obsession. You could manage this situation by asking if someone else can help out instead of making yourself do unnecessary things at an inconvenient time perhaps even convincing them to do some tasks early so, they are done when everyone else is getting ready for bed.

It’s important not only for managing these changes but also for preventing future disruptions; try setting up drop-off points beforehand so others know exactly what needs doing without needing instructions every single time something happens unexpectedly like this one did above.

Life Changes and Transitions

Life changes and transitions are often thought of as the most obvious sources of stress that can lead to the development and worsening of OCD. These events, which may include starting a new job, getting married or having children, can be a source of anxiety for anyone.

To deal with these life changes, Plan ahead as much as possible – new jobs or relationships can bring about feelings of uncertainty and fear about what’s to come. Try your best to visualize these situations in advance so you’ll know what to expect when it happens. For example, if you’re moving into a new home with your spouse ask yourself how you will feel once everything settles down; if it’s going to take some time before things feel right then remind yourself how good it will be once they do the same applies for starting school.

Seasonal Shifts

Seasonal shifts are a common trigger for OCD. For example, people with OCD may feel a sense of anxiety about their health in the winter because of the cold weather. This can lead to obsessions about germs and contamination that cause them to avoid touching certain objects or people.

Many people with OCD also have a fear of losing control. This fear can be triggered by events that may not seem as dangerous as they think in the moment, but could still make them feel out of control. For example, a person who has an obsession with germs may worry about getting sick more often during flu season than other times of year because he associates flu symptoms with germs.

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Not Taking Medication

In some cases, taking medication can help you get back to your normal life. If you’ve decided to try medication for your OCD symptoms, make sure that you take it regularly and talk to your doctor about any side effects that may occur.

It’s important that you don’t rely on medications alone for managing OCD. Medications are only one part of a larger treatment plan that should include therapy and lifestyle changes as well.

Ways To Deal With OCD?

When someone has OCD, it can be a real struggle to deal with the disorder. But there are ways you can help yourself. Here are some ways to cope with OCD:

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on the relationship between thoughts and behaviors. CBT can be used to treat many mental health concerns, including OCD.

Here’s how it works: A therapist helps you identify your obsessive thoughts, behaviors, or rituals and teaches you ways to manage them. For example, if you have contamination obsessions, OCD symptoms, your therapist might teach you about germs and how they spread so that way when the urge comes up to wash your hands 50 times in a row before eating lunch at work you don’t do it.

Exposure And Response Prevention (ERP)

Exposure and response prevention (ERP), one of the most effective forms of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), is designed to help you deal with your OCD by learning to let go of your compulsive behaviors. ERP teaches you how to challenge the irrational thoughts, images, and beliefs that fuel your obsessions.

ERP helps you face your fears in order to overcome them. For example, if a person has contamination obsessions and fears getting sick if they touch a doorknob or countertop at work, they could get a job working as a janitor at night so they can practice touching things without having an anxiety attack. This way eventually the fear will go away because it’s no longer relevant or realistic for them anymore since their life has changed so much since then.

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Get Involved with a New Hobby

If you have an obsessive-compulsive disorder, finding a new hobby might help you feel more relaxed. Try taking up a new sport or learning a new skill. If you’re afraid of germs or contamination, try signing up for a bowling league or joining a dance class.

Tell Someone You Trust About Your OCD

Talking to others about your OCD can be helpful in many ways. It can make you feel less isolated and ashamed of your disorder, and it may help you talk about the things that are making your life harder. You may also find that people who share your condition will understand how hard it is to live with it day after day.

Use self-help books

There are many books available to help people with OCD overcome their fears of germs and other common triggers for their disorder. These books can give you practical strategies for dealing with these feelings in everyday life.


If you or a loved one is suffering from OCD, know that there are many treatment options available to you including, but not limited to, the ones we’ve discussed. Of course, everyone’s experience with OCD is different, and so is everyone’s treatment plan. A good place to start is with your doctor or a mental health provider who can offer advice specific to your situation.

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Dave P
Dave P
Be a little better today than yesterday.


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