In the current era of increased mental health awareness, knowledge of conditions like obsessive-compulsive disorder has improved substantially. TV shows have helped expose people to the challenges of various mental health conditions. While this has been helpful, the way OCD has been portrayed in social media, TV shows, and other platforms is often inaccurate. This post discusses the realities of OCD that most people are unaware of.
What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?
OCD is a chronic and enduring mental health disorder characterized by uncontrollable, recurring thoughts and behaviors. OCD can also be defined as a pattern of unwanted thoughts and fears that lead to repetitive behaviors. The thoughts are known as obsessions, while the behaviors are called compulsions.
The symptoms of OCD are categorized into obsessive and compulsive symptoms. The obsessive symptoms include fear of contamination, the inability to tolerate uncertainty, a need for order and symmetry, and aggressive thoughts about losing control and harming others. On the other hand, some of the compulsive symptoms include repetitive hand-washing, counting, and repeating patterns, words, prayers, or phrases.
The realities of OCD
Below are some realities of OCD that a lot of people are not aware of;
People with OCD are not always neat-freaks
Most of the portrayals of OCD in the media include neat freak behaviors like cleaning or washing. This has led to many people assuming that any neat freak suffers from OCD. However, there is a distinction between people with OCD and neat or anal-retentive individuals. OCD usually reveals itself in different ways that don’t exclusively mean obsessive cleaning or washing. Therefore, a person cannot be diagnosed with OCD just for being overly tidy and clean.
Obsessions and compulsions are not the same
OCD includes obsessions and compulsions. However, most people do not recognize that obsessions and compulsions are different. The primary difference between these two parts of OCD is how they manifest themselves. Obsessions are thoughts that can interrupt your daily life – they are upsetting and make it hard for you to get things done. Many things trigger these thoughts and the need to act on them.
On the other hand, compulsions are mental or physical responses to obsessions. Carrying out compulsions brings about a sense of relief from an obsession. However, the feeling is typically short-lived. The compulsions are usually relevant or related to specific obsessions, but they may be unrelated in some cases. Therefore, a person can experience both (obsessions and compulsions) or just one.
OCD obsessions can be about anything
People with OCD can develop obsessions with anything, like counting, checking locks, cleaning, and daily routines. Most of these obsessions have to do with identity. However, the obsessions can also be about losing control. Such obsessions can become violent or explicit as they may trigger people to hurt themselves and others. Additionally, some people experience obsessions about things like the idea of dying, breaking up with a partner, going to heaven, and certain social situations. In a nutshell, the reality of OCD is that numerous obsessions about literally anything can characterize it.
Compulsions can also be about anything
Compulsions can be overt and covert, and they can be about anything. Examples of compulsions are washing, counting, tapping, touching objects, and repeating specific patterns or symmetry.
OCD can be debilitating
Most people look at OCD as a trivial mental health disorder that can be managed by fulfilling thoughts and desires. Unfortunately, there is a dangerous societal belief that OCD is almost a glamorous mental condition. This has led to many people claiming to have OCD. However, it is a chronic and debilitating condition. It involves constantly thinking about things and finding ways to fulfill desires.
Additionally, even if the compulsions are not acted on, the obsessions remain, like turning circles in the brain. Sometimes they can turn into panic attacks and constant worry. They take away a person’s ability to function and live a normal life in most cases.
OCD is treatable
There are many treatment options for OCD, with the most common ones being medication and psychotherapy. However, the treatments usually treat the secondary impacts and symptoms of the condition. Therefore, they help manage the obsessive and compulsive symptoms but typically do not result in a cure. Depending on the severity of the condition, OCD may require long-term or intensive treatments.
In a nutshell
Inaccurate portrayals of OCD are offensive and harmful to those who actually suffer from this condition. Unfortunately, these inaccurate portrayals are often associated with jokes. The reality of OCD is that it is a serious disorder. Therefore, joking about the condition and inaccurately portraying it can be frustrating and dangerous. In addition, it causes people not to recognize the severity of the condition and how much those who suffer from OCD suffer.