Accurate Information About OCD
Information for Media

What Doesn’t Cause OCD

People don’t do anything to cause OCD, and it’s not a contagious disease.  OCD is a neurobiological anxiety disorder, not a condition that is caused by an action or inaction.

Common misperceptions about the causes of OCD include:

  • STRESS.  Stress does not cause OCD, although sometimes symptoms begin after a severe trauma, such as the death of a loved one.  Other stress triggers include birth of a sibling, marriage, divorce, a move to a new home or new community, transition of a child to a new school year, or even a natural disaster, such as an earthquake. And OCD symptoms may increase in times of stress. But stress doesn’t trigger OCD unless the person is already genetically predisposed to OCD.
  • ILLNESS.  Childhood illnesses do not cause OCD, although some studies suggest that a strep infection may trigger the sudden onset of symptoms in children who are genetically predisposed to OCD.
  • PARENTING.  No evidence exists that would link OCD with the way parents guide or discipline their children.  Even the worst parenting doesn’t cause OCD.  Parents should not be “blamed” when a child exhibits symptoms of this disorder.

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