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The Myths And Realities Of OCD Sufferers

The Myths And Realities Of OCD Sufferers

Obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD, is a serious mental illness that is often misunderstood by mental health professionals and the general public. Misconceptions are often due to misrepresentation in the mainstream media, including those in TV shows and movies. In the US alone, 1 in 100 adults are believed to be affected.

It is generally believed that the symptoms of OCD include excessive hand washing and double-checking the house multiple times before you head out, but this illness is a lot more complicated than that. There are two components of OCD: the behavior and the compulsive behaviors. Here are some myths about this illness that are simply not true.

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Myth 1: Having behaviors like washing your hands repeatedly means you have OCD

Diagnosing someone with OCD is a complex process. It does not necessarily included checking to see if they are germaphobes or if they make sure the oven is turned off repeatedly before leaving home. Those with OCD become debilitated from the disease. Their lives at home, work, and school become increasingly hard to manage. They are plagued constantly with anxiety-ridden thoughts and obsessions and feel that it is necessary to perform certain tasks in a certain way in order to prevent something terrible from happening.

Myth 2: Everyone with OCD practices compulsive hand washing

In popular culture, it may seem like hand washing is the definitive symptom of OCD, but there are in fact many other symptoms that can manifest as well. Wearing a mask everywhere due to fear of contamination or a constant fear that they will hurt someone are two other possible symptoms of OCD. Preoccupations with certain numbers or patterns is one more symptom that can show up in someone suffering from this illness. Not every individual with OCD will be alike in their symptoms, and it is important not to generalize them as one large group.

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Myth 3: Individuals with OCD do not know that they are acting irrationally

It is a common misconception that those suffering from OCD are not aware of their irregular behaviors. In fact, it is completely the opposite. They are well-aware of their condition and this misconception only creates more anxiety for them because they don’t know how to stop their behaviors or thought processes. There is a feeling of being crazy because they feel that they are trapped. Discussing these thoughts with their therapist, along with the right combination of medications, is the right step towards recovery.

Myth 4: OCD is a result of a dysfunctional childhood

There is a widespread belief that individuals who develop OCD got it from having a difficult childhood, but this is simply not true. Events that happened when you were a child have little correlation with developing this illness later on in life. The only way family does play a role in OCD is through a possible link in genetics.

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Myth 5: OCD cannot be treated

There is a misguided belief that once a person is diagnosed with OCD, they are incurable. The first step to treatment is exposure and response prevention therapy—a type of therapy that helps you to face your fears. After this intitial step, the right combination of behavioral therapy and medication can help with a full recovery.

Myth 6: OCD happens only in adults

It is estimated that 1 in 200 children have OCD and that the youngest age a child can develop the illness is 4 years old. This statistic is around the same number for children with diabetes, which is considered an increasingly more common and problematic childhood illness. In an average-sized elementary school, 4 to 5 children will have OCD. In a high school that has a medium-to-large student body, you are likely to find 20 students with this debilitating illness.

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Featured photo credit: Flickr via flickr.com

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Last Updated on May 15, 2019

How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

As it appears, the human mind is not capable of not thinking, at least on the subconscious level. Our mind is always occupied by thoughts, whether we want to or not, and they influence our every action.

“Happiness cannot come from without, it comes from within.” – Helen Keller

When we are still children, our thoughts seem to be purely positive. Have you ever been around a 4-year old who doesn’t like a painting he or she drew? I haven’t. Instead, I see glee, exciting and pride in children’s eyes. But as the years go by, we clutter our mind with doubts, fears and self-deprecating thoughts.

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Just imagine then how much we limit ourselves in every aspect of our lives if we give negative thoughts too much power! We’ll never go after that job we’ve always wanted because our nay-saying thoughts make us doubt our abilities. We’ll never ask that person we like out on a date because we always think we’re not good enough.

We’ll never risk quitting our job in order to pursue the life and the work of our dreams because we can’t get over our mental barrier that insists we’re too weak, too unimportant and too dumb. We’ll never lose those pounds that risk our health because we believe we’re not capable of pushing our limits. We’ll never be able to fully see our inner potential because we simply don’t dare to question the voices in our head.

But enough is enough! It’s time to stop these limiting beliefs and come to a place of sanity, love and excitement about life, work and ourselves.

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So…how exactly are we to achieve that?

It’s not as hard as it may seem; you just have to practice, practice, practice. Here are a few ideas on how you can get started.

1. Learn to substitute every negative thought with a positive one.

Every time a negative thought crawls into your mind, replace it with a positive thought. It’s just like someone writes a phrase you don’t like on a blackboard and then you get up, erase it and write something much more to your liking.

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2. See the positive side of every situation, even when you are surrounded by pure negativity.

This one is a bit harder to put into practice, which does not mean it’s impossible.

You can find positivity in everything by mentally holding on to something positive, whether this be family, friends, your faith, nature, someone’s sparkling eyes or whatever other glimmer of beauty. If you seek it, you will find it.

3. At least once a day, take a moment and think of 5 things you are grateful for.

This will lighten your mood and give you some perspective of what is really important in life and how many blessings surround you already.

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4. Change the mental images you allow to enter your mind.

How you see yourself and your surroundings make a huge difference to your thinking. It is like watching a DVD that saddens and frustrates you, completely pulling you down. Eject that old DVD, throw it away and insert a new, better, more hopeful one instead.

So, instead of dwelling on dark, negative thoughts, consciously build and focus on positive, light and colorful images, thoughts and situations in your mind a few times a day.

If you are persistent and keep on working on yourself, your mind will automatically reject its negative thoughts and welcome the positive ones.

And remember: You are (or will become) what you think you are. This is reason enough to be proactive about whatever is going on in your head.

Featured photo credit: Kyaw Tun via unsplash.com

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