Exercise Daily – Being a person suffering from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is like being a person suffering from any other mental illness. It has its own set of specific obstacles. But the question is, what causes OCD to get worse?

Thoughts that race through your head, a fluctuating sensation of sameness, and an intense urge to do activities that may be considered strange are all symptoms of anxiety. However, for people who are suffering from this illness, it is the only sensible course of action they can take. 

In this article, we’ll look at the factors that contribute to the worsening of OCD symptoms. 

What exactly is OCD?

A large population of adults suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), which is an inability to manage compulsions and thoughts. According to the International OCD Foundation, an estimated 2-3 million Americans suffer from OCD.

OCD is typically characterized by compulsive behaviors. The display may take numerous forms, but the majority of them follow a rhythm or a pattern. You will most likely experience a sensation of tranquility as a result of carrying out these tasks.

Other indications and symptoms of OCD include checking that everything is in proper working order and re-thinking a scenario in your brain over and over again. what causes OCD to get worse

The most usual treatment strategy is a combination of talk therapy, behavioral therapy, and medication. The medications include antidepressants, to alleviate depression and other symptoms. 

The combination of these treatments may help alleviate some essential symptoms. These include racing negative ruminations and attempting to maintain control over obsessive thoughts and activities. 

What contributes to the worsening of OCD symptoms?

When someone is diagnosed with OCD, there are a number of anxieties and misunderstandings about how the condition has grown in that person’s mind. However, there has been a dearth of attention paid to what causes OCD to get worse?

It is important to first understand what the triggers are and how they are connected to the illness. Triggers are psychological cues that cause a person to remember a distressing event from the past. 

We have developed a list of four important OCD triggers that may cause symptoms to worsen. Let’s talk about them in detail.


For everyone, stress may be a trigger. However, for individuals who are coping with OCD, it can become a frightening experience. It exacerbates OCD symptoms to the point that they can become more problematic if not addressed immediately.

When stress is left uncontrolled, the strain it places on a normal individual might result in aberrant bodily and emotional reactions in that person. Stress may cause OCD symptoms to spin out of control in people who suffer from the condition. 

When you are anxious, you may notice that you are much more sensitive to details and structure.

It is critical for all of us, regardless of our current state of mental health, to develop effective coping mechanisms. For people who suffer from OCD, dealing with stress will be a little more complicated. 

In order to successfully complete your treatment plan, you’ll need to develop coping techniques. A therapist might be beneficial in this circumstance since they will have a strong understanding of your unique situation.


Maintaining an obsession with cleanliness isn’t always a negative thing. For people who suffer from OCD, on the other hand, the very concept of being clean might become a compulsion. Contamination is a major culprit when we talk about what causes OCD to get worse?

The fear of being contaminated is wide enough worry that it has become irreversibly tiresome to individuals who suffer from OCD, regardless of whether or not the individual in question genuinely has this phobia.

When this fear takes hold, it is normal for people to engage in regular washing routines that are generally excessive. A flare-up of a contamination trigger might lead these excessive bathing behaviors to become more frequent and severe. 

As the symptoms of OCD grow, it becomes more difficult to manage the urge.


It is usual for us to become acutely aware of our own self-image. We want to improve or perfect it in some way at some point. Self-image, on the other hand, may become a big problem for persons who suffer from OCD. 

Perfectionism is a symptom that many people who suffer from OCD struggle with. When this symptom involves a person’s sense of self-worth, it might cause other OCD symptoms to develop as a result.

what causes ocd to get worse

It is critical for persons suffering from OCD to have a realistic and proportional sense of their own value. They should be clear about their self-image in relation to what is really happening in their lives.

Having someone to assist the suffering in regaining their equilibrium after experiencing an inflated ego, which may occur in individuals who struggle from self-doubt, and reassuring the patient that there is nothing wrong with them as intrinsic persons, can be quite beneficial.

Losing Control of Certain Situations

One of the most obvious and significant triggers for people who suffer from OCD is the inability to exert control. They believe that they should be able to manage themselves. Such situations are also what causes OCD to get worse.

The impact of this trigger might be magnified even more if the person’s OCD is closely linked to a compulsion or obsession that is triggered by the scenario.

For instance, if you have an obsessive hand-washing habit. It happens that you find yourself in a precarious scenario when you come into touch with an external irritant. Therefore, you are unable to fulfill your desire to wash your hands in public. What options do you have?

When the person struggling is experiencing a compulsion flare-up as a result of a triggering event and is not able to exhibit their compulsive behaviors due to various circumstances, the person may experience an anxiety rush and begin to feel helpless.

The Spiral Descending

The obstacles of living with OCD are unique to each and every individual who suffers from the illness. 

When the intensity and frequency of these OCD thoughts and compulsions become excruciating and apparently unbreakable, the question of whether or not you are on the verge of entering a downward spiral of OCD symptoms is no longer a question.

The descent into uncontrolled OCD compulsions is a terrifying experience for both the sufferer and those in the sufferer’s support system. It is especially distressing for the sufferer’s family and friends. 

In order to alleviate or justify these deteriorating symptoms, some people believe that medicine or stress may be contributing factor. It contributes to the deterioration of their thoughts and behaviors in the present.

what causes ocd to get worse

A flare-up of OCD symptoms, in which the frequency and fury of the symptoms increase and become more cumbersome, is a warning sign. It should not be ignored or taken lightly. It is important that you keep a record of your thoughts and activities to see what causes OCD to get worse.

In this way, you can see how your symptoms are improving or worsening over time. We also urge that you seek the advice of a mental health expert or a trustworthy medical practitioner. This ensures that you or your loved ones are receiving the finest treatments available.

Exiting the Spiral: How to Do It?

Pulling yourself out of the spiral might be as simple as appealing for assistance when your thoughts or behaviors are becoming more gloomy. We need the choice of speaking out freely and honestly to a trustworthy supporting friend or family member.

In this way, we can express ourselves and relieve ourselves of undue pressures. Furthermore, having someone in your support system who can watch your conduct on a regular basis might help.

It enables people to identify any patterns that may be troubling to them or others. The significance of this is that, for someone who is suffering from OCD, troubling conduct seems to be normal.

Mental health professionals recommend changing up OCD behavioral therapy and having an OCD behavioral coach. In addition, learning and implementing some personal thought retracing steps to try and intervene on worsening compulsive thoughts are some of the other options. 

Taking control of one’s treatment is one of the most significant improvements a person suffering from OCD can do. This is a good attempt to combat their developing OCD symptoms and to figure out what causes OCD to get worse.

OCD patients report that a certain kind of behavioral treatment known as Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) is super effective. It aids in combating the complexities of OCD in both thoughts and behaviors.

ERP is centered on immersing a patient in thinking about their behaviors by counseling the patient through scenarios that are likely to trigger the patient’s obsessions and compulsions. 

ERP is a kind of cognitive-behavioral therapy performed by an appropriately licensed therapist who knows how to talk and walk a patient through traumatic or stressful situations.

What Happens When the Spiral Swallows?

Despite the fact that many people are able to live with their OCD and break free from its downward spiral, there are individuals who do not. 

When OCD thoughts spiral downhill, there are actual implications. Although it may be a transient flare-up – as it often is – it might also be a warning signal of the start of a potentially deadly downward spiral. 

It is important to attempt to develop an open and honest conversation with your doctor. Inability to be open and the attempt to suppress concerns and complications may result in the condition not only increasing but also sucking you or your loved ones into a loop of negative thoughts, unpredictable behaviors, and in some severe situations, suicidal ideas and acts.

Also read: Can Tinnitus Cause Migraines?

Exercises to Prevent OCD


Yoga may be gentle or difficult. It incorporates physical positions (asanas), regulated breathing, and times of meditation. Yoga is a safe way to cure your body and mind. The benefits often start after only one lesson.

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Tai Chi

It is a beautiful traditional Chinese martial technique that mixes meditation and rhythmic breathing. It helps in the following:

  • Relaxation
  • Lower BP
  • Reduce anxiety and depression
  • Boost self-esteem

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Aerobic Exercises

Regular aerobic activity (such as running, cycling, or swimming) is linked to greater mental health. Although research mostly focuses on depression, panic disorder, and OCD, there is some evidence that exercise may help alleviate social anxiety.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why has my OCD suddenly got worse?

Obsessive-compulsive behaviors may be prompted by unwarranted concerns, distressing thoughts, or frightening imagery. 

In most circumstances, OCD will develop gradually. Patients who acquire an abrupt, and quick start of symptoms, may have an underlying organic reason, such as an illness, producing OCD-like behaviors.

What causes OCD to flare up?

Triggers are unique to each individual, just as OCD is unique to each individual. There is an unlimited amount of things that might be triggering to someone, including ideas, objects, and experiences. 

Because stress, trauma, and major life changes may all exacerbate triggers, your triggers may alter or worsen over time, depending on your situation.

How can I calm my OCD?

  • Practice mindfulness to manage stress.
  • Get plenty of exercises
  • Sleep well and enough
  • Avoid nicotine and alcohol

What are severe OCD symptoms?

  • Aversion to contamination
  • Doubt and inability to tolerate ambiguity
  • Requiring order and symmetry
  • Aggressive or horrifying ideas of self- or other-harm
  • Unwanted ideas about aggressiveness, sexuality, or religion

How do I break my OCD cycle?

  • Read a book
  • Call a friend
  • Draw a picture or write something
  • Talk a walk around 
  • Do household chores

Wrapping Up

OCD is already a challenging illness to try and control. Therefore, knowing what causes OCD to get worse is important. Attempting to treat your own OCD is not a good idea. It is actually hazardous to your or your loved ones’ health and well-being in the long run. 

While we don’t want to belabor the point, it’s critical to be able to communicate effectively and honestly about your health. It goes for your physical health, your emotional health, or your mental health. 

In the same way that having a support system might possibly save your life, being there for someone else who is suffering can perhaps save their life as well.

Nothing more than having a genuine chance to reach out — or having someone else reach out to you — and feeling comfortable discussing topics that are otherwise unpleasant to address is necessary. 

Life is already difficult enough as it is, and adding OCD to the mix can make it even harder. However, if you have a support system of doctors, mental health professionals, and loved ones, you have already completed one piece of the puzzle.

Just keep in mind that living a fulfilling life is possible. However, you must be open and ready to call out for assistance when necessary. You must also work with your support team to identify and implement strategies for better managing and dealing with your OCD.