As someone who has struggled with anxiety and OCD in the past, I understand the challenges that come with these conditions. It can be easy to feel helpless and out of control when it comes to managing the symptoms of anxiety and OCD. However, it’s important to remember that there are many factors that can contribute to the development of these conditions, and that there are things you can do to help manage and even overcome them. You are not doomed – even though it may feel like it sometimes!
Risk factors are predominantly genetic
One of the most significant risk factors for anxiety and OCD is genetics. If you have a family history of these conditions, you may be more likely to develop them yourself. Let me be clear, though – genetics are not the only factor at play. Environment can also play a significant role in the development of anxiety and OCD. Think of it like a loaded gun. Genetics are the loaded gun, but your environment will determine whether, to what extent, and when that trigger is fired.
The effects of stress
One environmental factor that can contribute to anxiety and OCD is stress. When we experience stress, our brains release cortisol, a hormone that can trigger feelings of anxiety and make us more prone to compulsive behaviors. If you’re living in a stressful environment or experiencing high levels of stress in your daily life, this can increase your risk of developing anxiety or OCD.
The truth about trauma
Another environmental factor that can contribute to anxiety and OCD is trauma. Trauma can take many forms, including physical or emotional abuse, neglect, or a significant life event such as the loss of a loved one. When we experience trauma, changes our brain chemistry that make us more susceptible to anxiety and obsessive thoughts or behaviors. It can make you more vigilant for threat when there is, in fact, no actual, present danger.
Environmental risk factors
Finally, the environment in which we live can also impact our risk of developing anxiety and OCD. Living in a restrictive environment, such as a strict religious community or a household with rigid expectations, can also contribute. A lack of social support can also play a role, not just with OCD and anxiety but with many mental health conditions. Throughout life, modeling also plays a role, which comes us watching the people around us. If those around us reacted a certain way to anxiety or distress, it’s likely that we also picked up certain how to deal with these stressors.
Risk factors do not determine your ability to recover
While there are many risk factors that can contribute to the development OCD, it’s important to remember that there are also many things you can do. Finding someone who specializes in OCD and anxiety treatment is key. If you are unable to find a therapist who specializes in this treatment and who works with these conditions, I recommend checking out my masterclasses available HERE where you can learn more about OCD, anxiety, ERP, and so much more.
If you’re struggling with anxiety or OCD, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. Many people struggle with these conditions, and there is help available. By taking steps to manage your symptoms and seeking professional help when needed, you can learn to live a full and empowered life, free from the constraints of anxiety and OCD.
You’ve got this!
I’m Jenna Overbaugh, a licensed therapist who’s been working with people who have OCD/anxiety since 2008. I am all about helping you get your life back so OCD and fear no longer keep you feeling so small. Follow along for tons of resources, guidance, and encouragement to do ALL THE HARD THINGS!
Website: www.jennaoverbaughlpc.com (free newsletter + workshops)
Disclaimer: Please note that the information/resources offered on this podcast is not, nor is it intended to be, therapy or a replacement for therapy. It does not constitute a client/therapist relationship.
In this episode, I talk with OCD warrior and mental health advocate, Jessie Burnbaum, about her experience of living with OCD and a chronic illness. Jessie co-founded the IOCDF Chronic Illness/Disability Speciality Interest Group and helps lead virtual meet-ups for the IOCDF Young Adult Special Interest Group. We discuss..
– the parallels of having a chronic illness and OCD
– how OCD and anxiety can be particularly challenging when you have a chronic illness
– ways in which ERP can differ for chronically ill patients
– how Jessie's medical journey forced her to face some of her biggest exposures
– how having a chronic illness is the ultimate ”unknown”/”uncertainty” and tips for coping
To learn more about Jessie and the Special Interest Group, follow her on Instagram @chronically.courageous or follow the link below:
Head to my website at www.jennaoverbaughlpc.com to sign up for my free e-mail newsletter, grab your free ”Imagine Your Recovered Life” PDF, and download your free “5 Must Know Strategies for Managing Anxiety and Intrusive Thoughts” video + access expertly crafted masterclasses just for you. Course and more coming soon!
Remember: this podcast is for informational purposes only and may not be the best fit for you and your personal situation. It shall not be construed as mental health or medical advice. The information and education provided here is not intended or implied to supplement or replace professional advice of your own professional mental health or medical treatment, advice, and/or diagnosis. Always check with your own physician or medical or mental health professional before trying or implementing any information read here.
Jenna Overbaugh, LPC
This blog is for informational purposes only and may not be the best fit for you and your personal situation. It shall not be construed as mental health or medical advice. The information provided is not intended or implied to supplement or replace professional advice of your own professional mental health or medical treatment, advice, and/or diagnosis. Always check with your own physician or medical or mental health professional before trying or implementing any information read here.
© 2023 Jenna Overbaugh, LLC
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