Research funded by the National Institute of Health suggests that OCD may be associated with an uncommon mutation of certain genes such as the (hSERT). This is a serotonin Transporter Gene.
It is thought that a mutated gene such as this one or similar has the potential to be passed on from mother to baby. Another study on OCD genetics concluded that 25% of its OCD suffering participants had at least one immediate family member with OCD.
To this, I can certainly relate as there are several members of my immediate family with varying degrees of OCD. My mother, her mother (my grandmother) and my grandmother’s mother, all suffer or suffered stressful and time-consuming OCD.
My Personal experience of OCD has been debilitating to say the least, as you can read through the numerous topics on my blog, however my mother has recorded only two significant incidences of OCD in her life so far.
The first time was when she’d just had my sister. My mum recalls being too afraid to watch the news in case it was reported that a war was about break out between the UK and another country, despite there being no significant threats of war during this time. This lasted a few months and eventually dwindled off into something she never worried about again.
The second time was roughly ten years later when she passed her driving test. My mother recalls driving home one evening when she was suddenly struck with the idea that she might have hit somebody during her journey and couldn’t remember.
This resulted in her retracing her journey a couple times, but was soon able to let the thought go and she never felt the urge to do this whilst driving, ever again.
My grandma, on the other hand, has a far more serious case, she has a fear of medication, significant health OCD and cleanliness OCD.
Grandma also has a number of other obsessions and rituals that take up many hours of her day and create anxiety.
For example, she is obsessed with checking all of her gas appliances, before she goes to bed. Grandma will spend at least an hour walking between the kitchen cooker hob and the gas fires in her lounge and dining room before feeling satisfied that they are all off. She will switch all taps to off and then stare at them for a minute or so, to ensure they are definitely not on.
Once satisfied that they are all off, she will head towards the stairs that lead to her bedroom, and with the firm intention of checking no more and hitting the hay. Then suddenly, she’d be gripped with anxiety and doubt, believing that maybe she hadn’t checked them properly after all, and will in turn repeat the cycle another thirty to forty times before the mental exhaustion is too much to carry on.
Despite grandma physically switching all gas appliances to off (including switching them on, so she can have the added reassurance of switching them off again, in order to familiarise herself with what on and off look like), she continually doubts herself and doubts what she can see.
What she does believe is that her own brain/mind is capable of tricking her into thinking she has switched them off, when really she has left them on , unlit and hysterically hissing gas out all night. It is this belief that keeps grandma stuck in this cycle night after night and it has become part of a very laborious and mentally draining bedtime routine.
Interestingly, my grandma once told me that her mother had very severe OCD and that my OCD symptoms reminded her of her mother.
My sister also has a minor case of OCD, which involves checking that gas taps are off and doors are locked properly. She will spend a few minutes checking them and has described it as an annoyance but is able to continue on with her day without any anxiety.
What I find most interesting about our hereditary OCD is that it only appears to be on the female side. My mother’s brother has no OCD symptoms and neither does his son.
I find my families OCD fascinating in some respects and I wish I understood it better. However for now it leaves me pondering a number of questions…
1, Why are only the females affected and not the males?
2, Does gender play a role in some way or is it purely coincidence?
3, What other possible factors could have contributed to these variations in severity?
4, Is OCD more common in females than males?
If anybody can answer these questions or has a theory or view on this subject, then please comment. I would love to hear your thoughts.