OCD: What Is This Disorder? Some Misconceptions About OCD

Last Updated: December 28, 2022, 12:15 IST

While OCD can be a debilitating disorder, myths around it make it sound like it is no big deal for the people suffering from it. (Image: Shutterstock)

While OCD can be a debilitating disorder, myths around it make it sound like it is no big deal for the people suffering from it.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is something people often talk about, but it is often accompanied by myths that do not explain the intensity. According to the International OCD Foundation, the mental health disorder is one that affects people of all ages and is characterised when a person is “caught in a cycle of obsessions and compulsions”.

These obsessions are unwanted, intrusive thoughts, images or urges that trigger feelings of distress. For a diagnosis of OCD to be made, this cycle of obsessions and compulsions must be so extreme that it consumes most of the time of the day in dealing with feelings of intense distress. Individuals with OCD also find these thoughts getting in the way of important daily activities.

While OCD is an extreme form of mental disorder, myths around the issue persistently downplay the problems of those who suffer from it. However, the reality is different and here are some myths versus facts about OCD”

Myth: We all are “A little bit OCD” at times.

Fact: OCD is not a personality quirk or character trait, but rather a mental health disorder that affects a large population of adults and youth around the world. People who have OCD cannot simply “turn it off” and their brains are differently wired than ours. This can clearly be seen in their actions and thoughts.

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Myth: OCD is just about handwashing, cleaning and being neat.

Fact: Cleanliness and neatness obsession are only a small part of OCD. People with OCD can have obsessions with a variety of things from losing control, hurting others, unwanted sexual thoughts and more. Checking things around, repeating the checks and actions, and counting are compulsions that help them deal with the anxiety caused due to these obsessions.

Myth: OCD is not a big deal, people just need to relax and not worry so much.

Fact: People with OCD face a level of anxiety that makes them extremely vulnerable. The feeling of worry and fear will often cause disruption in the most basic functionalities of everyday life. To try and overcome their anxiety they use their compulsions or rituals (specific actions and behaviours) that can help relieve this stress.

Myth: People with OCD are just “weird,” “neurotic,” or “crazy” and there is no hope for them to ever lead happy functional lives.

Fact: With proper treatment, people can lead easy and productive lives despite their OCD. The response of OCD patients to behavioural therapy and/or medication is often positive. Family therapy has also proven to be beneficial. Support groups are also helpful for individuals with OCD to deal with their condition.

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