If you are a fan of American sitcoms, then the term is commonplace. You may have heard it being tossed around so casually, either jokingly or abusively. ‘I can’t sleep if I don’t arrange my books. I’m so OCD’, ‘ I have to wash my hands every 20 minutes. God, I’m so OCD’ are some phrases popularized in web series and sitcoms. Due to this widespread usage of the term OCD, many people form misconceptions around this mental illness and thus pool myths around it day by day.
Prevalence of OCD
OCD, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is a mental illness. Yes, it is an illness and not just a quirk or a trait. The Indian population has in itself 2-3% of people suffering from OCD, meaning, for every 100 people, there 2-3 people suffering from this illness. In America, 50% of OCD cases are categorized as severe.
OCD is when excessive thoughts(obsession) lead to repetitive behavior (compulsive). It can affect people of all walks of life. A recent study has observed that 1 in every 200 kids have OCD with kids’ ages ranging from 4 years to 18 years.
Myth 1: Organized=OCD
The customary image portrayed in media regarding OCD is that people suffering from it keep their things extremely organized. A portion of people suffering from OCD do keep their things clean and organized, but that doesn’t mean that all people who prefer to be organized have OCD. If you like have your surroundings clean and neat, then you do so. You have a choice to clean it or not. But with OCD, that choice is taken away from you. You organize things compulsively even if it doesn’t give you satisfaction. So next time you see your classmate arranging their pencils in a row, do not judge them.
Myth 2: Germaphobes
People with OCD wash their hands often and are afraid of getting an infection is a common myth. While some people with OCD do feel compulsive to do so, not all do. Often, the reason for doing so might not be rational. They may obsess over a belief that if they don’t wash their hands before studying, something bad might happen. Such obsessions lead to compulsive hand washing. Hence no, all people suffering from OCD are not germaphobes.
Myth 3: OCD is a woman’s disease
Looks like the myths surrounding it isn’t just enough and you have to add a sexist angle to it to make it even worse. The International OCD Foundation said that OCD spans across race, gender and age and should not be taken carelessly.
Myth 4: All of us are a ‘little’ OCD
There is no such thing as ‘little’ or ‘partial’ OCD. It is a dangerous mental disorder which makes it difficult for people to carry on with their daily lives. Just because you keep you things tidy, you cannot say that you are a ‘little’ OCD. If you obsess over irrational thoughts, and can’t control them even when you are aware that it is meaningless, then do consult your doctors. Do not stay put.
Myth 5: OCD is not treatable
This myth is one of the reasons people do not seek help when dealing with OCD. They are made to belive that it is an inbuilt behavior and cannot be changed. There are therapies and medicatins that reduce the intenstiy of the illness in many cases.
These are hard times. Do reach out to/for your loved ones. Stay safe.