What You Need To Know About OCD
Get to know this World Mental Health Day!
When you think of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) you probably think of someone repeatedly turning lights on and off and jumping over cracks in the pavement. But OCD is NOT that simple, and it’s majorly misunderstood as a mental illness.
And, since it’s World Mental Health Day, why not get to know the facts? Here’s 14 things you need to know about OCD:
1. OCD has four stages
OCD starts with obsession, which is a constant unpleasant and often distressing thought that dominates all other thoughts. This causes anxiety (stage two), which causes compulsion - where people feel they need to behave in a certain way to reduce their anxiety (stage three). Lastly, stage four is the temporary relief when behaving that way seems to beat their anxiety.
BUT this runs in cycles - the obsession and anxiety soon comes back.
2. People aren’t OCD just because they’re neat freaks
If someone’s compulsive behaviour is that they wash their hands repeatedly, it’s not to do with simply hating having dirty hands. Cos that would be simple AF.
The issues go a lot deeper and are related to, for example, an obsessive anxiety or fear of being ill. Other obsessions people with OCD can have include fears of acting out violent or aggressive thoughts, harming others, disturbing blasphemous or sexual thoughts and fears about safety, e.g. household appliances.
3. There are lots of different OCD compulsions
While it’s true that hand washing is quite a common compulsion for people with OCD, people with OCD often have compulsions like counting, ordering and arranging, seeking reassurance, hoarding and repeating words in their head.
4. You can’t always tell
It’s not always obvious that someone has OCD - despite their difficulties people with OCD don’t seem obviously disturbed. A lot of the symptoms of OCD only show themselves behind closed doors.
5. It can develop at any age
That means a child could have OCD - and it’s estimated that 1 in every 100 children in the US do. OCD most commonly develops during early adulthood though.
6. It’s equally male and female
A lot of people mistakenly think OCD is more of a female disorder - maybe because they wrongly associate it with female stereotypes like “women are cleaner” or “women are more particular/ fussy” (come on, ppl).
Actually OCD is genderless - there’s no difference between the amount of men and of women who have it.
7. It’s the fourth most common mental disorder
It’s thought to affect 1.2% of people in the UK and 1.6% in the US and is the fourth most common mental disorder. Say, whaaat?
A lot of people who have OCD symptoms are also often undiagnosed.
8. Stress doesn't cause OCD
Normal stress doesn’t cause OCD. It’s a mental health problem that’s born out of anxiety, and it’s a serious condition.
Thinking that people with OCD just need to ‘chill out’ is one of the big misunderstandings people have about the condition and how it works.
9. OCD doesn’t develop due to your upbringing
People may think that OCD develops as a result of a difficult upbringing but this just isn’t true, though OCD can run in families due to DNA.
It’s not clear what exactly causes OCD but differences in the brain, life events and personality traits like meticulousness and having high personal standards contribute.
10. It’s not trivial
OCD can be devastating in the way it impacts peoples’ work, families and social lives.
Unfortunately it’s often trivialised as people don’t understand how badly OCD can impact lives in the long-term. Phrases like “they’re kinda OCD” are casually thrown around to describe people who’re really neat or particular, which just adds to the trivialisation of OCD as a mental health condition.
11. People with OCD are often too embarrassed to get help
It can be hard to admit that you feel you have to go through specific rituals to manage your anxiety.
People with OCD often know logically that their particular behaviours don’t actually help with the source of their anxiety, but still feel like they have to do them to relieve anxiety. They’re often too embarrassed or ashamed to tell others their symptoms.
12. It doesn’t just wear off
OCD is very unlikely to go away by itself. Having OCD isn’t just a phase but runs in continuous circles, so in order for people with OCD to get better they need to seek professional help.
13. OCD CAN be treated
OCD can be controlled and treated! One of the most effective ways to treat OCD is through Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy (CBT).
People with OCD can go to their GP for referral or go straight to a psychological therapy service to get professional help.
14. There’s no proper test for OCD
Unfortunately there’s no test you can take that will confirm whether or not you have OCD. It’s up to healthcare professionals to assess and diagnose.
However if you’re worried that you may have OCD, you can take this quiz for more of an indication and decide for yourself whether you need to visit your GP for assessment.
So there you have it - 14 things you never knew about OCD. It’s underestimated, under diagnosed and majorly misunderstood as a mental health condition, so it’s important to get to know the facts and help to raise awareness, especially today!
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