Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a devastating disorder known to be triggered by stressful life events but the actual cause is unknown.
This is from Mayo Clinic online:
“Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by unreasonable thoughts and fears (obsessions) that lead you to do repetitive behaviors (compulsions). With obsessive-compulsive disorder, you may realize that your obsessions aren’t reasonable, and you may try to ignore them or stop them. But that only increases your distress and anxiety. Ultimately, you feel driven to perform compulsive acts in an effort to ease your stressful feelings.”
A recent hypothesis involves gut microbes.
Could OCD be a gut dysfunction which then leads to obsessive behaviors including hand washing and other repetitive behaviors?
As noted stress can set it off and also antibiotics have been considered a possible root cause. Both of these will alter gut microbes. For example, autoimmune psychiatric disorders in children can result from antibiotics given to treat strep infections.
This recent paper written by Jon C. Rees of Lawrenceville in Georgia, United States suggests that probiotics may reduce OCD symptoms.
It would be highly unconventional yet truly exciting if such a simple and healthful measure that comes with no harmful side effects (as with strong medications) could be part of the cure.