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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 September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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