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Is OCD Inherited?

Updated on August 3, 2009

Evidence suggests that OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) might run in families. Inheritance of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder refers to whether the condition is inherited from your parent's or "runs" in families. The level inheritance plays in the condition depends on how important genetics are in the disease.

At this time, researchers cannot predict who will develop OCD, but it has been shown to follow patterns in families. There are strong indications that the biological imbalance of the brain chemical serotonin can be passed on from generation to generation. So, the tendency to develop OCD may very well be inherited, while the actual disorder may not. When OCD runs in families, it is the general nature of OCD that is inherited, not the symptoms. Thus, a child may wash compulsively, while his mother or father has checking rituals.

Research suggests that OCD involves problems in communication between the front part of the brain (the orbital cortex) and deeper structures (the basal ganglia). These brain structures use the chemical messenger serotonin. It is believed that insufficient levels of serotonin are prominently involved in OCD. Medications that elevate the concentration of serotonin in the brain often improve OCD symptoms.

Pictures of the brain at work show that the brain circuits involved in OCD often return to normal after taking a serotonin medication or receiving cognitive-behavioral therapy or both.

Researchers must continue to study the genetic disposition of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder before they can definitively say that it is in fact inherited.


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    • KatieE39 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Colorado

      I have recently participated in a family study through John's Hopkins University looking for genetic markers. I would suggest checking in to this.

    • profile image

      A.Edward Moss 

      8 years ago

      At the age of 25 (1985), I sought help for "something". During the holidays, I became aware of a genetic disorder that affects "many" individuals on one side of our family. OCD appears to be the culprit and as I write this letter, I am the only remaining "living" male of the 3 afflicted. The first took his life 8 years ago at age 47 and most recently,

      a cousin died (in his sleep?) at age 50.

      Other than wanting (needing?) answer's, I'm looking to find a "study" that will allow me to volunteer for ANYTHING that will help my extended family find solice and comfort because they're are many others (as I speak...) going through the same "shit" I've endured for over 25 years.

      Any info will, of course, be greatly appreciated.



      A.Edward Moss (allonym)

    • KatieE39 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Colorado

      Thank you, Lyricsingray. (-:

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      You always have such great content-thought this was great, Thanks for sharing it. Hope you are well. :-)

    • KatieE39 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Colorado

      Those two disorders may well be related. I know that about 33% of people who have Tourette's syndrome also stutter. Some researchers believe that OCD and Tourette's are related anxiety disorders, so who knows. Thanks so much for sharing!

    • lain profile image


      9 years ago from London

      Thanks for the hub, great info.

      I have a moderate case of OCD. No one in my family has OCD that I'm aware of. Apart from the OCD I also stutter and again, no one in my family does. I feel these two disorders are related in my case.

    • KatieE39 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Colorado

      Thank you for your comment, Jen. And you are right...thank goodness for researchers!

    • Jen's Solitude profile image

      Jen's Solitude 

      9 years ago from Delaware

      This is just another example of how amazingly complex the brain is. The research into whether it is inherited will take much time, but folks are always working hard to find satisfactory answers to this and other diseases and conditions that affect the brain. Enjoyed both your hubs!



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