Some mental illnesses in the social media aren’t taken as seriously as they should be. Depression is often described as just “being sad” and people who like things to be neat are said to have obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). As a psychology student who learns about these disorders, it frustrates me that people aren’t educated. OCD is so much more than just being neat. Hopefully after reading this short post, people will understand how serious this illness is, and think twice before casually telling people they have OCD.
- OCD affects 1.2% of the population regardless of age, gender or ethnicity
- The WHO ranked OCD in the top 10 most disabling illnesses in relation to reduced quality of life and income
- Compulsions are repeated behaviours or rituals done again and again in an effort to reduce anxiety caused by obsessive thoughts. For example:
Obsessive thought: my house is going to get burgled and all my possessions will be stolen
Compulsion: constant checking of doors and windows all the time
The real impact of OCD
Twitter accounts like @OCDthings suggest that simply liking things neat and tidy, or liking visually satisfying pictures means you have OCD. For people who have this disorder, this can be very upsetting, especially if they are seen to be attention seeking or over reacting. The real impact of OCD is far more damaging.
- OCD is destroying your gum linings from brushing your teeth hundreds of times a day because of obsessions to look after them.
- OCD is washing your hands so much, they start to bleed from being rubbed raw.
- OCD is not being able to hold down a job, or continue your education due to obsessive thoughts consuming you mind, and compulsions consuming your physical activity.
These things are a long way away from liking you cupboards stacked nicely.
OCD: symptoms and diagnosis
The symptoms of OCD fall into different categories. These include:
OCD can be formally diagnosed when these symptoms consume a large proportion of someone’s time (one hour or more), cause significant distress or disrupt every day functioning i.e. work, education, and home life.
The OCD cycle
It has been well reported that suffers know that their thoughts and actions are completely irrational; so why do they continue to have them? It’s due to something called the “OCD cycle”.
Obsessive thoughts cause anxiety. This leads to performing compulsions – irrational or not – that give relief to the individual, reducing their anxiety. The obsessive thoughts start again and the cycle starts over. It is this cycle that maintains the behaviours seen in OCD.
Hopefully this post has shown how devastating OCD can be. A lot of mental illnesses, as well as OCD, aren’t portrayed well across social media and in a lot of cases it’s down to lack of education. If you are to take anything from this post, it’s to be a bit more respectful and not to use the term “OCD” to describe things that have nothing to do with it.
Many thanks for taking the time to read my post. I hope you learned something,
NHS. (2015, June 19). Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Retrieved from http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Obsessive-compulsive-disorder/Pages/Introduction.aspx
OCD-UK. (2015). Understanding OCD. Retrieved from http://www.ocduk.org/