Misperceptions About OCD

How often do you hear someone call themselves or another person “OCD”? Some people may have obsessive or compulsive traits, without having the very real mental health disorder. To refer to someone’s personality trait as this disorder is the first misperception about OCD. Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common, chronic, and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and/or behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over.

The second misperception is that OCD is only about cleanliness and neatness. Cleaning, organizing, and washing your hands are just a few of the compulsions someone with OCD may have. Different people have different obsessions and compulsions. For example, someone with the fear of being responsible for harm may have compulsions to check the locks on the doors repeatedly in case someone tries to break in. Or may make sure the stove top burners are off many times in fear of starting a house fire. Some other common compulsions used to reduce anxiety can be counting, tapping, or repeating certain words.

It may seem like people with this mental health disorder cannot live a ‘normal’ life. The final misperception we will share about OCD is that it is impossible for people with OCD to be productive, functioning, and happy individuals. Some ways that might help individuals who live with obsessive compulsive disorder lead a happier life, outside of finding the right medication and therapy for them, are as follows. Be mindful about dietary choices, as the food we put in our bodies can directly affect our mood. In addition, try to avoid caffeine as it can increase anxiety. Drugs or alcohol intake can be triggers to anxiety as [...]

How to Comfort Someone Who Has PTSD

To witness a friend or a loved one suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is not easy. Not only is PTSD difficult to live with for the individual, but it takes a toll on the people who care about them. First and foremost, it is important to understand the symptoms of PTSD. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that is triggered by a terrifying event, either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event. PTSD symptoms can vary in intensity over time.

Here are some ways you may be able to comfort your friend or loved one who suffers from PTSD.

Listen to them and practice effective communication on their terms. Allow them to speak without interruption or judgement, in hope that they will feel heard and acknowledged.
Be patient as there is no set timeline for how long it will take to heal from PTSD.
“Normal” activities that do not have anything to do with their PTSD experience may be a good thing to encourage. Some examples include spending time with friends, picking up a hobby, or finding some form of exercise that is enjoyable.
Educate yourself on PTSD, and your friend or loved one’s personal triggers. To learn their triggers will help you to anticipate and prepare for these situations, or ideally, be able to avoid them.
Support them in times of distress as best you can. It can be helpful to remain calm, give them some space, ask how you can help, and offer a safe space in the situation.
Self-care is crucial for the friends or loved ones who help [...]

How Exercise Can Help Combat Depression

Struggling with depression can majorly impact our daily lives. There are many ways to combat depression; medication, diet, and exercise are some of the most common methods. Finding the right medication and eating a balanced diet can drastically improve your well-being, and exercise is equally important.

Often, people who exercise regularly do it simply because it makes them feel good. Exercise can boost your mood, concentration, and alertness. It can even help give you a positive outlook on life.

The link between exercise and mental health is complicated. Inactivity can be both a cause and a consequence of mental illness, for example. But there are lots of ways that exercise can benefit your mental health. Read on to learn about some mental health benefits of exercise.

The levels of chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin, stress hormones, and endorphins, change when you exercise, leading to feelings of happiness and mood stability.
Regular exercise can help you sleep better, which in turn increases your energy levels and helps you manage your mood.
Exercise can improve your sense of control, coping ability, and self-esteem. People who exercise regularly often report how good achieving a goal makes them feel.
Exercise can distract you from negative thoughts, serve as an outlet for anger or frustration, and provide opportunities to try new experiences.
Exercising with others offers an opportunity to get out of the house, socialize and build a social support system.
Exercise can reduce skeletal muscle tension, which helps you feel more relaxed.

Exercising for your mental health
If regular exercise is not already a part of your routine, you might be wondering how much you need to do to give your mental health a [...]

5 Common Types of OCD

Obsessive compulsive disorder presents itself in many forms, and certainly goes far beyond the common misconception that OCD is merely a little hand washing or checking light switches. Although those are OCD compulsions for some individuals, such perceptions fail to acknowledge the many negative impacts that an individual with OCD may experience along with their compulsions, such as distressing thoughts. Though there are a myriad of different types of OCD, it has been traditionally considered that a person’s OCD will fall into one of these five main categories, with themes often overlapping between categories.

The top 5 categories for OCD:

Contamination / Mental Contamination
Symmetry and ordering
Ruminations / Intrusive Thoughts


People with Checking OCD fear that something bad may happen to themselves or others and therefore are compelled to check things ritualistically or obsessively. The need to repeatedly check is the compulsion out of risk prevention for an accident such as a fire, a leak, accident, or other type of harm. This obsessive concern causes anxiety, which they respond to with checking rituals to gain certainty that something terrible has not or will not happen.

Contamination / Mental Contamination

Contamination OCD is a common type of OCD in which a person obsesses over contracting an illness or spreading germs. These intrusive thoughts may cause an individual serious anxiety and distress, which they try to relieve with compulsive behavior, like excessive washing or avoiding crowded spaces.

Symmetry / Ordering

People with Symmetry OCD are often diagnosed at an earlier age than those experiencing other types of OCD. This kind of OCD is characterized by intense anxiety over asymmetry. Obsessions that occur for those with Symmetry OCD include being concerned that something bad will happen [...]

The Debilitating Effects of Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a tragic disease that can rip loved ones away from their familiarity with people and things closest to them. Everyone suffers when someone they love is diagnosed. Alzheimer’s is an age-related brain disease in which an individual experiences progressive memory loss. Known as one of the most common forms of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease is associated with loss of functioning in daily activities and occupational domains.

Understanding the Disease

Alzheimer’s is a complex disease that causes changes to the brain resulting in memory loss, impaired judgement and reasoning skills, difficulty with self-care, getting lost in familiar surroundings, spatial and visual relationship problems, anxiety and impulsive behavior, and paranoia and confusion. This can be terrifying when a loved one is experiencing these kinds of symptoms. We tend to want answers and to be able to make sense of what is happening to the people we love, when nothing makes sense about their behaviors or actions.

Understanding some of the science behind the changes in the brain can help ease frustrations tremendously for both patients and caregivers. Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that causes the brain to shrink (atrophy) and brain cells to die. Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia – a continuous decline in thinking, behavioral and social skills that affects a person’s ability to function independently.

There is hope and help

Approximately 5.8 million people in the United States age 65 and older live with Alzheimer’s disease. The early signs of the disease include forgetting recent events or conversations. Younger people can be affected by Alzheimer’s, but it is less common. Some early signs to watch out for with loved ones include getting lost in familiar places, trouble handling money or bills, difficulty [...]

The COVID-19 Impact on Mental Health

By now, we are all well aware of the physical symptoms of COVID-19 to watch out for: loss of taste and smell, sore throat and congestion, dry cough. We have adapted to guidelines to keep the community as safe and healthy as possible. October is depression and mental health awareness month, so what better time to reflect on the implications that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on mental wellbeing.

Unprecedented Times

We have been living in pandemic times for over a year and a half in the United States, and many changed facets of life are now simply viewed as the “new normal”. However, it is important to recognize that the unprecedented changes we’ve experienced have taken a toll on our society in more ways than one. Unemployment rates skyrocketed, small businesses struggled to stay afloat, and families have tried to juggle remote school and work under one roof. Frontline workers have put their own health at risk to tend to those with severe cases of COVID, and many are fearful of contracting COVID or spreading it to their most vulnerable loved ones. As a result of these tumultuous times, the nation is experiencing a mental health crisis that should not be ignored.

The Mental Health Crisis

According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 2 in 5 Americans reported that their mental health has been negatively impacted due to the coronavirus. Some are having trouble eating or sleeping, and feelings of loneliness and isolation brought on by quarantining and social distancing have led to an increase in depression and anxiety among the population, and no demographic is exempt from these effects. Stress, anxiety, and grief surrounding the uncertainty of the times has led [...]

The 3 Phases of Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a common neurologic disorder that causes the brain to shrink in size and brain cells to die. It is a progressive brain disorder, meaning that it slowly gets worse as time goes on. Currently, there is no known cause or cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but there are treatment options available to patients to slow the progression of the disease. There are three stages of Alzheimer’s: mild, moderate, and severe. Read on to learn about the key differences among each phase of this disease.

Stage 1: Early-Stage Alzheimer’s

An individual with mild or early-stage Alzheimer’s can function independently and go about their everyday life with little interruption or assistance. The symptoms of Alzheimer’s in this stage may not be widely apparent to loved ones at this point in the disease. The main symptom of mild Alzheimer’s disease is memory lapse, which can include misplacing a valuable item, difficulty planning or organizing, or struggling to come up with the right word in a conversation.

Stage 2: Middle-Stage Alzheimer’s

Once an individual progresses into moderate or middle-stage Alzheimer’s, they require a higher level of care. Typically, stage 2 is the longest phase of Alzheimer’s and can last for several years. Individuals may struggle to perform some everyday tasks without the assistance of a caretaker and symptoms become more noticeable to others. As the brain continues to deteriorate, noticeable personality changes may occur. For example, a moderate Alzheimer’s patient may become moody, withdrawn, suspicious, or compulsive. Forgetfulness becomes more apparent as well; it may be difficult to recall events, what day it is, and personal history.

Stage 3: End-Stage Alzheimer’s

Stage 3 Alzheimer’s is characterized by symptoms so severe that an individual loses the ability to actively participate with the [...]

The Difference Between Headaches and Migraines

Nearly everyone has experienced the pain of pesky headache at some point in time. It can be a dull, aching pain focused in one area, or a sensation of pressure around the entire head. Headaches can occur due to stress, dehydration, or other common issues, but the good news is that the pain of a headache is typically manageable and short-lived. A migraine, however, is a debilitating condition that over 36 million Americans experience. Do you know the difference between the two conditions?


A migraine presents itself much more aggressively than a headache. The pain of a migraine typically usually just one side of the head, and those who suffer from migraines often describe the condition as a unrelenting, throbbing pain. Migraines don’t just affect the head, either; a migraine episode may be accompanied by nausea and vomiting, pain behind the eye or ear, sensitivity to light and sound, and even noticeable changes in vision. These changes in vision can ranging from seeing spots or flashing lights to temporary vision loss. The symptoms associated with a migraine can last for several days and be so severe that they disrupt everyday tasks, whereas a headache is typically just a nuisance that is dealt with while going about the day’s activities and goes away after a few hours.


Over-the-counter medication like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can usually take care of a headache in no time for most individuals, but unfortunately, migraines don’t usually go away so easily.  If over-the-counter medications don’t provide relief, prescription drugs aimed at either prevention or treatment may help and are often recommended by health professionals. Home remedies may provide some relief, too, such as laying down in a dark room, maintaining proper hydration, and [...]

OCD Defined: How to Spot OCD Symptoms

Recognizing and understanding the signs and symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are the first steps to helping a loved one living with this mental disorder. OCD often receives the cliché of maintaining cleanliness for fear of contamination. Whereas this may be a relevant symptom, there is a lot more that goes into it. At its core, OCD is the obsessive fear of the unknown and compulsive actions are a way to justify control over the unknown, mentally.

Obsessions: Individuals living with OCD commonly have unrelenting obsessive thoughts and behaviors that creep into the mind and are difficult to get rid of. Unwanted and unrelenting mental images or urges are signs of compulsive thoughts that can interfere with daily life and cause anxiety to the individual. These obsessions can be particular to the person living with this illness, but there are many that overlap from patient to patient.

Compulsions: Control is a powerful trait of humanity. To be in control of one’s behaviors, actions, and outcomes creates a peace of mind for those that may feel threatened otherwise. Historically, control is either the goal of the action or the main piece to reach the goal. As aforementioned, people living with OCD live in a constant state of mind that they are not in control. Compulsions are the action of mentally maintaining control. Without this perceived control, the obsessions may take hold in a larger and more significant way.

Obsessions and compulsions can be minor, evolve to harmful and life-threatening situations, and everything in between. Here is a small list of common obsessions along with the compulsions that often overlap with people diagnosed with OCD:

O: Fear of contamination

C: Repetitive washing, cleaning, and sanitizing.

O: Being unsure if [...]

The Effects Of Depression

Major depressive disorder (MDD) can be debilitating and have devastating affects if not properly treated. Melancholy and disinterest in daily life are two red flags that may lead to further evaluation by a medical professional. Recognition of the signs of symptoms of depression could help you or a loved one and is crucial to understanding and managing this disorder.

Everyone has bad days here and there, but once it becomes a struggle to get out of bed, or perform simple tasks, it could be a sign of a much bigger problem. Mental exhaustion can have a significant effect on the body. For instance, people living with depression tend to lack energy, are resistant to take part in activities with others, are sluggish, and may subsequently lack motivation to seek help. These physical effects may stem from the feelings of worthlessness or guilt and depleted mental energy. MDD patients that don’t want to face the day ahead due to these feelings may turn to hiding from the world as a temporary solution.

Often, holidays can enhance the feelings of loneliness for people living with depression. Holidays, such as the 4th of July include gatherings of friends, family, and loved ones. During these times, depressed individuals can often withdraw from social interaction and feel enhanced feelings of low self-esteem. A strong support system and mindfulness from loved ones can provide encouragement and assistance for individuals living with depression.

If this sounds like you or a loved one, it is important to contact a medical professional to receive the treatment that may be right for you.


Pharmasite Research in Pikesville, MD is enrolling people diagnosed with MDD for a clinical research investigational treatment. Sign up and see if this clinical research [...]