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Resentment and Anger in OCD

written by: Alicia Miller • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 11/4/2010

Does anger and resentment contribute to obsessive compulsive disorder? Obsessive compulsive disorder, also known as OCD, is a serious yet often-overlooked mental illness that occurs to men, women and children. In recent years, researchers have asked this question to help determine OCD's root causes.

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    What is OCD?

    OCD, or obsessive-compulsive disorder, is a serious mental health illness that affects around 2.2 million American adults, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. It is characterized by intrusive, unwanted and persistent thoughts, otherwise referred to as obsessions, and repetitive, ritualistic and uncontrollable behaviors, referred to as compulsions. Compulsions are performed as a way of relieving the tension of the obsessions, although this rarely brings relief and, more often than not, causes further distress. The causes of OCD are varied and in recent years studies have focused on questions such as, "Why do people develop OCD?", "What factors can potentially exacerbate cases of OCD?" and "Does anger and resentment contribute to obsessive compulsive disorder?"

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    Does Anger and Resentment Contribute to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

    Anger is often a component of OCD, although it is not entirely clear whether OCD causes anger or anger causes OCD. According to Drs. José A. Yaryura-Tobias and Fugen A. Neziroglu in their book, "Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Spectrum: Pathogenesis, Diagnosis, and Treatment," anger may be related to biochemical or psychological components of OCD. The psychological aspect of anger and OCD is that people who develop OCD are often angry and frustrated with their lives, which basically gets channeled into their obsessive thoughts and ritualistic compulsions. The biochemical reasons for anger may be a result of lowered levels of serotonin, which is also a feature of individuals who suffer from OCD. Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter that is responsible for a variety of mental health functions such as mood and behavior.

    Resentment is another common emotion experienced by individuals with OCD. They may feel helpless or disempowered by their illness, feeling like they can do nothing right. Resentment can manifest in a variety of ways in both patients and family members of those suffering from OCD. In the patient, the feelings of resentment exacerbate their symptoms as they attempt to dissociate from this negative emotion. The family may feel resentment towards the patient for having the disease, which in turn exacerbates the symptoms of the patient, according to authors Bruce Hyman and Cherry Pedrick in their book, "OCD Workbook: Your Guide to Breaking Free from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder."

    Anger and resentment often co-exist and manifest in the compulsive side of OCD. According to authors Hyman and Pedrick, these feelings can result in behaviors such as compulsive shopping, hoarding or accumulating compulsions, among numerous others. Managing and dealing with feelings of anger and resentment is an important component of alleviating symptoms of OCD. According to Hyman and Pedrick, managing negative feelings and thoughts through treatment approaches such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and self-help is often an useful way of dealing with the anger and resentment that often causes or manifests in OCD.

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    References

    "Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Spectrum: Pathogenesis, Diagnosis, and Treatment"; José A. Yaryura-Tobias, MD and Fugen A. Neziroglu, Ph.D; 1997

    "OCD Workbook: Your Guide to Breaking Free from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder"; Bruce Hyman, Ph.D and Cherry Pedrick, RN; 2010

    National Institute of Mental Health: Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder