By Dina Scolan, MA, LCPC
What do Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz, Justin Timberlake, and Jessica Alba have in common? They all are famous stars, walk the red carpet at award shows, and all have been diagnosed and treated for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
Admit it, we have all heard someone playfully say “I am so OCD” as they straighten out a crooked picture frame, organize their closet, or stack something neatly. Heck, maybe we have even said something like it ourselves once or twice. Although they are meant light-heartedly, misinformed comments such as these minimize the agony of those who genuinely battle real OCD, and contribute to a misunderstanding of what it really is.
October 7th kicks off OCD Awareness Week, which makes it a perfect time to start the conversation and spread some education.
OCD isn’t about quirky behaviors, cleanliness or preferences. It isn’t just about handwashing or needing things to appear neat. Obsessions can range from “normal” daily content like germs and orderliness, but can also include disturbing “taboo” content like harming loved ones, abusing children, or accidentally or purposefully offending God and going to hell. It is a severe mental illness that affects 1 out of every 100 people. It is irritating at the least and torturous at its worst. Those with OCD typically experience both obsessions and compulsions, where the brain fires off uncontrollable, terrifying, intrusive thoughts that cripple sufferers with anxiety and subsequently flood them with feeling compelled to perform repetitive actions or rituals in an attempt to relieve the distress. It’s about becoming locked in a shameful, powerful cycle – repeating behaviors that bring sweet but very temporary relief, only to have the entire cycle start over again and then again. Those with OCD would argue that it’s not a laughing matter and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Here are a few facts:
*Average age of diagnosis is age 19
*Many spend hours a day locked into engaging in rituals
*Individuals who battle OCD often avoid people or places that trigger the intrusive thoughts, therefore negatively impacting social relationships and life functioning. Some stop leaving the house altogether.
*OCD responds well to Cognitive Behavior Therapy and treatment with Exposure and Response Prevention
*SSRI medications can be an effective tool in helping manage symptoms
*It’s not funny
*It’s not a choice
*It’s not a punchline
OCD is a life-long condition that is very treatable, and individuals can claim back their lives – just ask JT and Leo!
The treatment team at The OCD & Anxiety Center is ready to assist you in developing a treatment plan that fits your needs and helps you achieve meaningful, long-lasting change. Call or email us today to schedule your first appointment with one of our specialists! (630) 522-3124; firstname.lastname@example.org.