What Are the Causes of Compulsive Behavior?

Chemical Imbalances

Imbalances of chemicals in the brain may be a cause for compulsive sexual behavior (also known as sexual addiction), compulsive gambling, and compulsive eating (also known as binge-eating disorder), according to the Mayo Clinic.


Obsessive-compulsive disorder, which is an anxiety condition that sufferers feel can only be alleviated by compulsive behaviors such as excessive hand-washing, along with compulsive eating may be linked to genetics, according to the Mayo Clinic.


Environment, or learned habits over time, may be one of the causes of some of the repetitive behaviors associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder, according to the Mayo Clinic.


Low self-esteem, a history of sexual abuse and problems dealing with emotions are all possible causes of compulsive behaviors such as in binge-eating disorder, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Physical Diseases

Diseases that can potentially damage and change the brain such as epilepsy, dementia, Huntington's disease and multiple sclerosis can contribute to compulsive sexual behaviors, according to the Mayo Clinic. Compulsion is defined in the medical field as a strong and often irresistible impulse to commit an act, even one that is potentially dangerous and against one's own desires. There are many manifestations of compulsive behavior, ranging from compulsive sex to compulsive overeating. Modern psychology has defined some possible causes of compulsive behavior.