We’ve all heard the phrase “a little bit OCD” about someone who likes to keep an extremely clean and organised home or workspace, however, being diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is not something to oversimplify.
MYTH: OCD just affects young people.
OCD does not discriminate between age, gender or ethnicity. It can be a chronic and debilitating condition, where affected individuals experience recurring and distressing thoughts.
MYTH: OCD IS JUST ABOUT KEEPING THINGS CLEAN AND ORGANISED.
These thoughts can relate to being responsible for causing harm to a loved one, that they have a certain illness (for example HIV) or that they are contaminated with environmental toxins (such as asbestos).
OCD can also make someone feel grossly uncomfortable if an object or their environment is not arranged in a certain way, or experience vivid images of violent or sinful deeds.
To prevent these thoughts from continuing to happen or to relieve the anxiety and distress they cause, an OCD sufferer feels compelled to perform a ‘compulsion’.
This can be any ritualistic and repetitive behaviour such as excessive handwashing and/or cleaning routines, or checking that harm hasn’t occurred (for example, repeatedly driving back to a place where the person thinks they could have hit someone in their car).
MYTH: People With OCD Do Not Realise What They’re Doing
OCD sufferers are usually aware of the bizarreness and irrationality of the thoughts they experience and the compulsions they perform.
This can make the condition very frustrating, particularly as the obsessions and compulsions can be very time consuming for the individual.
MYTH: There is no treatment for OCD.
Currently the first line treatment interventions for OCD are antidepressant medication and cognitive behavioural therapies. These strategies have shown that they do provide relief for many patients.
The University of Melbourne is currently researching the effects of an amino acid called N-acetylcysteine (or NAC for short) to improve symptoms.
NAC has been researched widely for various medical conditions, including mental health disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, addiction, as well as OCD.
Have you, or someone you know been diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder? You may wish to join a University of Melbourne research study – for more information on this, visit their website, here.
Additional information and support for OCD can be viewed here: https://www.arcvic.org.au/.
Talk to your doctor if you have concerns about OCD symptoms and/or your mental health.