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 well, especially after they leave our system. Establish a good sleep schedule and workout routine, as both proper sleep and exercise helps to possibly decrease stress and boost that ‘feel good’ mood. Search for some relaxation techniques, such as yoga or meditation, to teach the body how to feel calm and better manage symptoms of OCD.

Obsessive compulsive disorder carries more misperceptions and the more we acknowledge them, we can eliminate the false narrative so the disorder can be seen for what it is. OCD obsessions can sometimes cause debilitating anxiety for the individuals. If you or a loved one lives with OCD, you can see if you or they qualify to participate in a current study or contact us to learn more.