It was not so long ago when people blamed life experiences as the root cause of OCD. However, with the recent advancements of science and with the new discoveries of potent drugs, this old belief has slowly faded out of the scene.
The neurobiological basis associated with OCD has been further fortified by the fact that OCD patients do respond to medications specifically formulated to affect the neurotransmitter serotonin. Such findings have led to the dismissal of the notion that OCD can only be attributed to certain behaviors or traits learned in childhood. OCD behaviors such as unusual emphasis to order and cleanliness, or strong rejections to certain societal ideals deemed as dangerous to oneself are simple examples.
Modern efforts to discover the real OCD causes have incorporated focus on the interaction of neurobiological factors, the cognitive processes of an individual and influences from the surrounding. By discovering the cause, experts hope that eventually the development of OCD can be prevented. OCD has been known to co-exist with other disorders that extend from obesity, bulimia or anorexia to insomnia, depression, ADHD and the like.
Developments in science have enabled experts to study the brains of people with OCD through the use of the Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scanner. Findings obtained through PET have shown that people with OCD exhibit a different brain activity pattern as compared to those without OCD or those with a different mental illness. While there are no evidences yet to prove that clinical improvement can be attained through medication or behavior therapy, the findings proving that the abnormal brain activity pattern happen mostly in the region where abnormality also appears for people with other mental disorders such as schizophrenia is enough to deduce that it can be treated biologically.
Neuropsychological studies have shown that people with OCD have less white matter in the brain as compared to others diagnosed to be free from any disorder. The results of these studies were made possible through the use of magnetic resonance imaging. Faced with such findings, neurologists are yet in the process of understanding its significance to the search for the causes of OCD.
Moreover, it was found out that people with existing mental disorders are likely to develop OCD as well. In a certain study, it was concluded that patients with Tourette’s Syndrome have a higher rate of having OCD. Tourette’s syndrome is characterized by involuntary speech and action. Nonetheless, brain investigators are also looking into the possibility that the relationship could only be genetic or incidental.
Scientists have also reached great extents in studying OCD. Molecular basis for the disorder has been continually formulated through systematic genetic studies. Scientists pay extra attention to the angle associated with genetics because of the fact that OCD is has been linked to trichitillimanis, body dysmorphic disorder and hypochondriasis in many cases recorded.
However, theories relating OCD to the environment and upbringing which might have molded an individual’s attitude and principles are still not completely dismissed. These other theories are still entertained because experts believe that cognitive and behavioral theories are not at all unrelated.