Similar to many other mental disorders, there is a stigma attached to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Many people misinterpret the disorder for simply being tidy, perfect and clean. While these are definitely symptoms of the disorder, there is so much more to OCD that people overlook because the term is so loosely thrown around.
According to Psychology Today, OCD is an anxiety disorder in which people have unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, images, and sensations (obsessions) and engage in behaviors or mental acts in response to these thoughts or obsessions. The disorder affects a reported 2.2 million American adults, and thousands more who are undiagnosed.
In order to help put an end to the popular stigma that OCD is simply perfectionism, we wanted to shed light on the cruel reality of life with OCD and the variety of symptoms different people with the disorder live with.
Different Types of OCD
Constant checking and inspection. Constant checking and inspection can surface both mentally and physically. Mentally, individuals with OCD find themselves checking their memory to make sure that an intrusive thought they had was just a memory and didn’t actually happen. Physical symptoms include constantly checking to make sure windows, car doors, knobs and doors are locked or to ensure they blew out a candle, turned their gas or water off in terrible fear that something awful will happen. Sometimes these “checks” are followed through anywhere between 10-50 times as a result of the anxiety disorder.
Contamination. Contamination is another very popular form of OCD. Individuals suffering from the disorder are in constant fear that everything around them in dirtying them and as a result go to the extreme to shower, wash their hands and brushing their teeth. Some cases are so extreme that skin starts to deteriorate, rub off and leaves these victims with visible wounds from the excessive cleaning. Yes, some people are very self-aware when it comes to germs, but the difference is that people with OCD often carry out this out a concerning amount of times, often accompanied by rituals, until the person “feels clean” rather than someone without OCD who will wash or clean until they “see” they are clean.
Intrusive thoughts. Intrusive thoughts are one of the more mentally challenging forms of OCD. Individuals with OCD have continuous, invasive and many times inappropriate thoughts that can be horrifying, torturous and detrimental to their state of happiness. Because these thoughts are repetitive and not voluntarily produced by the individual, it causes the sufferer extreme distress because they feel terrible that they are capable of thinking such thoughts.
Intrusive thoughts can include the following:
- Sexual thoughts
- Religious beliefs
- Violent thoughts
- Inappropriate relationships
If you are one of the many people who contribute to the stigma of OCD and throw the disorder around as if it were simply a term, try your hardest to change that habit and make a point to spread awareness about this
If you have OCD, you are not alone. If you live in the Baltimore area and are suffering from OCD, we have a research study that you may qualify for. You can fill out the form below and someone will be in touch with you shortly.