Stressful life events and the clinical expression of obsessive–compulsive disorder (Ocd): An exploratory study

André Kracker Imthon, César Antônio Caldart, Maria Conceição Do Rosário, Leonardo F. Fontenelle, Euripedes Constantino Miguel, Ygor Arzeno Ferrão

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11 Citations (Scopus)


Background: In obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD), symptom content and severity appear to fluctuate over the course of the life cycle in accordance with stressful life events. The objective of this paper was to compare OCD patients with and without reported stressful life events (SLEs) in terms of the sociodemographics of patients and the clinical characteristics of OCD. Methods: This was a cross-sectional study involving 1001 patients with OCD. Data concerning SLEs were collected via the Yale OCD Natural History Questionnaire, while for OCD symptoms, the Dimensional Yale–Brown Obsessive–Compulsive Scale was used. Results: Of the 1001 OCD patients, 605 (60.5%) reported experiencing at least one SLE in their lifetime. Self-declared nonwhite skin color (odds ratio (OR) = 1.51), the presence of a sensory phenomenon (OR = 1.47), and comorbidity with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (OR = 2.38) were some of the logistic regression variables related to the reported SLEs with relevant statistical significance and risk (i.e., OR) values. Conclusions: Our results indicate that SLEs may make Brazilian OCD patients vulnerable to the onset or exacerbation of obsessive–compulsive symptoms. The positive association of the occurrence of SLEs and sensory phenomena in this population could corroborate that environmental influences impact the neurobiology associated with OCD, and likely with other psychiatric disorders as well.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3371
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • Obsessive–compulsive disorder
  • Obsessive–compulsive symptoms
  • Risk factors
  • Stressful life events
  • Symptom dimensions

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