OCD, or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, is an anxiety disorder which affects roughly 1.1% of the population in the UK. It consists of 2 elements, obsessions and compulsions.
Obsessions are unpleasant thoughts, worries, urges, images or doubts that repeatedly appear in the mind for someone with this condition.
Compulsions are repetitive activities that people with OCD do to relieve the anxious feelings caused by the obsessions. This is the part of the condition that you see portrayed in the media (often cleaning).
Since it is Mental Health Awareness Week I wanted to share 10 misconceptions about OCD that you’ve either seen in the media or heard from your friends.
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1. Everyone With OCD Is Clean And Neat
This is NOT true. Some people with the condition do clean and tidy as part of their compulsions, but this just isn’t the case for many people. In fact I would say that a lot of people with OCD just don’t care about neatness at all. The media portarys the illness in this way because it’s the easiest way to show it.
2. Everyone Is A Little Bit “OCD”
Your colleague who likes her pencils a certain way probably isn’t, it is really frustrating and it adds to the stigma when people say they have it without a formal diagnosis. You probably do not have OCD if you are neat, but don’t have the obsessions as well.
3. They Can Control It
Mental Health in general isn’t something that people can control. It’s something that can be managed with the proper help, but people with OCD can’t control the obsessive thoughts that come their way or the compulsions that help them cope. They can’t switch them off easily.
4. People With OCD Don’t Realise They Are Acting Irrationally
9 times out of 10 they are very aware that they are acting irrationally, but they can’t take the chance (or can’t stop themselves). There are very few cases of people with this illness where they think they are being 100% rational.
5. It’s Obvious If Someone Has It
This is also thanks the media’s interpeation of OCD. You’d be surprised at how many people have the disorder and don’t display compulsions that you notice. A lot of people expect sufferes of OCD to be switching light switches on and off compulsively, but compulsions are often small things like tapping or repeating words or numbers in their heads. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
There is a lot of help out there if you have OCD and are struggling to cope (especially during the lockdown).
Royal College of Psychiatrists
Professional body for psychiatrists. Includes information about mental health problems and treatments.
Mind shares a lot of valuable information on many mental health disorders and provided valuable contacts where you can get help.