Stop Misusing OCD: Myths about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Picture credits: ADDitude

In this modern world, we are suffering from different types of mental health issues that are disrupting our personal, social and work lives. And OCD or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is one such mental health issue that affects about 1.2 percent of the Americans (American Psychiatric Association).

But what is OCD and what are the misconceptions that people have about this particular disorder.

What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a type of an anxiety disorder which is characterized by having unwanted and recurring thoughts, referred to as obsessions, which forces an individual to act on them repetitively, referred to as compulsions. We all suffer from having unwanted thoughts. We all have recurring thoughts too about something or the other and many times such thoughts compel us to act upon them. However, things are a little different for people suffering from OCD. They have these obsessions and want to have a control over them but they can’t. They know well that their thoughts are not making any sense but they can do nothing to stop themselves from having them and acting upon them. Things get out of their hands to such an extent that their obsessions and compulsions start to mess up with their personal, social and work life. Fortunately there are different treatments that one can seek and get better with time.

What’s worrisome is that people have misunderstood this particular mental health issue and let some myths take control over their level of understanding. And it is very important that these myths should be debunked.

3 Common Myths about OCD

MYTH 1: If you are meticulous, you have OCD

Some people are very punctilious. They work with a lot of precision. Even I like precision and want to do every task with perfection (although I know well enough perfection doesn’t exist). But that does not mean such meticulous people have OCD. Being precise with everything is one of their personality traits. It doesn’t mean that they have impulses and compulsions to act upon them. So before you go out and call someone having OCD based on their orderliness, make sure you don’t pick up on myths anymore.

MYTH 2: If you are washing hands many times or like things hygienic, you have OCD

A lot of people believe that OCD is all about washing hands many times and keeping things neat and tidy. While it is true that many people with OCD have one of the obsessions where they believe their hands are dirty and feel compelled to wash them 20 times in an hour; it is not the end of the story. Obsessions can be of different kinds including fear of close ones dying, fear of harming themselves or loved ones, fear of committing a sin or crime, etc. Many people have obsessions where they believe they haven’t locked their almirah locks or haven’t turned off gas stove. As a result, keep checking them compulsively many many times in a day.

MYTH 3: People with OCD should learn to have some control over their thoughts

Stigma is very common among mental disorders or psychopathology. People never miss on any opportunity to teach the sufferers that they need to be bold and take control over things. They must not act weak anymore. Such sentient beings make it all sound so relaxing as if it all so easy. It is not easy to let go off the obsessions. It is not easy to stop acting upon intrusive thoughts altogether. There are a lot of factors playing their part: changes in brain’s chemistry due to imbalances in neurotransmitters, triggers in the environment, cultural background, interpersonal relationships, etc. That is why it is not so easy for people suffering from OCD to simply have control over their thoughts.

Mental Health problems are never easy: both for the person suffering and people who are closed ones. That is why it is of utmost importance that we get to the facts and seek professional help and not get wrapped around misconceptions and myths.