Top 5 Myths About OCD

Written by Michael Wynands These three letters get thrown around way too casually. Welcome to WatchMojo’s Top 5 Myths. In today’s instalment we’re counting down the top 5 myths about OCD, also known as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Special thanks to our user Ashjbow for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 5 Myths About OCD

These three letters get thrown around way too casually. Welcome to WatchMojo’s Top 5 Myths.
In today’s instalment we’re counting down the top 5 myths about OCD, also known as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

n our modern society, the term OCD is used quite liberally, often as a joke or to insinuate that someone is fixating too much on a given task. But in reality, OCD is a serious anxiety disorder that can have a significantly negative impact on one’s ability to lead a productive, well-balanced life. Come along as we break down common misconceptions and generalizations pertaining to this condition.

#5: OCD Is All About Cleanliness and Organization.

We’ve all seen depictions of OCD in popular media - it usually involves meticulous cleanliness or people repeatedly washing their hands. While the compulsion to keep things extremely clean and well-organized or a fixation with personal hygiene are certainly common among those who suffer from the disorder, such tendencies are far from universal. For some, anxiety manifests in alternative obsessive compulsions, such as irrational chronic fears, ranging from accidents to certain numbers or colors, or the need to repeat certain actions ritualistically (like locking doors). A key example that undermines the “neat freak” stereotype is hoarding, which is in fact a very common symptom of OCD.

#4: OCD Is An Adult Problem

Kids can be a mystery. Just ask any parent… a child’s development takes countless twists and turns, and newly developing behaviors can be hard to keep up with. It is often tricky to distinguish a tidy, hygienic, or safety-conscious kid from one exhibiting symptoms of OCD. The anxieties and rituals, if present, are similar to those of their adult counterparts, just transposed onto a child’s life. It’s estimated that 1 in every 200 kids has OCD, although other studies have suggested that it’s more like 1 in every 100. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can be particularly hard on kids, as most have little knowledge of OCD, and likely lack the vocabulary to clearly express the abstract anxieties they are experiencing.

#3: It's Untreatable

OCD can be a source of shame or embarrassment for those who suffer from it. While any mental illness can prove challenging to overcome, those who suspect that they may be experiencing symptoms of OCD should seek treatment… because it exists, and it often works. There’s no magic pill to make the feelings go away. General anxiety medication may be prescribed to take the edge off, but perhaps the most effective treatment is “exposure and response prevention”, or “ERP”. This type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy exposes the patient to anxiety triggers in the form of ideas, images, videos or items. With help from the therapist, the patient learns to appropriately process their anxiety rather than resorting to ritual soothing.

#2: People With OCD Are Unaware of Their Actions

When you’re constantly “getting stuck” in rituals or experiencing intrusive anxious thoughts, your issues become self-apparent. Most OCD sufferers are well aware of their condition - they simply don’t wish to discuss it. There are, however, people who are unaware of their own obsessive need for order and control, but they likely have Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder, or OCPD, and not OCD. It’s similar, but ultimately a different beast. With OCPD, everything stems from a need to control your environment. Because these compulsions relate to upholding unreasonable personal standards rather than soothing intrusive thoughts via ritual, individuals with OCPD often view their compulsions as, quite simply, “the right way to do things”, and see them as entirely normal.

#1: It's All About Repeating the Same Actions

We’ve already touched on this briefly, but it’s worth going into further detail, because when it comes to OCD, this is arguably the most pervasive myth. When someone performs the same action multiple times, or find themselves unable to stop performing a certain task, it is referred to as “getting stuck”. While this is a common issue for individuals with OCD, the assumption that it is THE default behavioral pattern is a serious disservice to this nuanced disorder. Some patients exhibit no external symptoms whatsoever, experiencing what is known as “purely obsessional OCD”. In such cases, all anxieties and subsequent soothing rituals are performed mentally. While it may sound preferable, many sufferers describe it as a constant, exhausting mental battle…
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