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Three things I wish more people knew about OCD

4 min read
07 October 2019

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition in which people experience repetitive and obsessive thoughts, causing feelings of disgust or anxiety, and engage in compulsive behaviours to try to reduce the impact of these obsessions. Though it is quite a common condition, across people of all ages, many are either misinformed or uneducated about OCD. So, here are three things you should know:

OCD is not just about watching "oddly satisfying" videos online

Many online accounts, on a variety of social media platforms, post these “satisfying” videos featuring slime, hydraulic presses or icing a cake with a steady hand, for example. Some then caption these posts with clickbait titles such as “watch this if you have OCD”, almost dismissing the reality of the condition and using it as an umbrella term for anyone who enjoys this type of videos.

Now, I love these videos, and I understand the appeal - the bright colours and glitter; the slow motion; the crunches and pops – however, while these videos can be appealing to those with OCD, that’s a huge generalisation.

These videos do not represent the condition or the compulsive behaviours some with OCD preoccupy themselves with, as…

OCD comes in many different forms

OCD isn’t just the fear of contamination or the need to have all items neatly arranged in a specific order – although people with OCD may experience these feelings. There are other behaviours that can be triggered by our surroundings or intrusive thoughts.

For example, someone’s obsessive fear could be the possibility of a disaster in the house e.g. a fire or a leak. The likely compulsive behaviour to try to reduce this fear would be to check things like house lights and candles, water taps, dials and knobs on cooking appliances etc.

Some people may have compulsions that are not obvious or visible to anybody else. We all have intrusive thoughts – unwanted thoughts or images that pop into our head and confuse or frighten us – but people struggling with OCD may experience these to a heightened degree and get stuck worrying about their meaning. They may use mental rituals to relieve the anxiety and fear, such as reciting certain words or phrases to themselves.

Both these visual and hidden compulsions are usually undergone repetitively. OCD varies in severity, but some people may spend hours carrying out compulsions, which may make them late for work or social occasions – affecting their ability to secure jobs and relationships.

Regardless of the obsession or compulsion, it is important to remember that the intrusive thoughts are not accurate portrayals of a person’s character and personality – just because somebody thinks something does not mean they want to do it.

OCD doesn't have to be permanent

Many assume that once someone is diagnosed with OCD, they will be stuck with it for the rest of their life. However, there are some very effective therapies to reduce the condition’s impact on a person’s life.

The two main types of treatment are psychological therapy (usually cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)) and medicine (usually a type of antidepressant such as SSRIs). With the correct combination of professional treatment and support, people with OCD can improve their condition and recover.

Alongside professional help, it is important to have a supportive community to help the recovery process. If anyone you know has OCD, it’s important to be open about it and support them as much as possible. 

The best ways to do this are by:

  • Being patient

    you want them to get better just as much as they do, but recovery takes time

  • Not being judgemental

    even if their fears seem irrational or shocking to you, their worries seem very realistic to them.

  • Asking them how you can help them personally

    keeping a line of communication open is vital

  • Educating yourself

    by reading this blog post, hopefully you already have a better idea of OCD, however there is always more to learn. 

Find out more about OCD

If you think you are struggling with OCD, have a look at our OCD page for advice on where you can go next for help.

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