Family

3 myths about obsessive-compulsive disorder, plus some facts

Ever said, "I totally have OCD?" Do you think you really have it, though?

3 myths about obsessive-compulsive disorder, plus some facts

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a real mental health issue, but many of us talk about it in a joking way. Like, "I can't even work until my desk is completely organized and all of my pens are facing the same direction. I totally have OCD!"


All images via TED-Ed.

The truth is that OCD is actually a serious psychiatric condition and is so much more than being methodical or meticulous. People who have OCD have an actual disorder — they're not just "Type A" or perfectionists.

That's why Natascha M. Santos broke it down in this TED-Ed video, which you can watch at the end of this post.

Here are three of the most common myths about OCD.

Myth 1: Repetitive or ritualistic behaviors are synonymous with OCD.

There are two parts to OCD:

  1. Obsessions: Intrusive thoughts, images, or impulses.
  2. Compulsions: Behaviors people engage in to relieve the anxiety caused by the obsessions.

There's a difference between compulsive tendencies and obsessive-compulsive behaviors. OCD is time-consuming and can interfere with work, school, or a person's social life.

There are definitive criteria required for an OCD diagnosis, and those are different than someone who is, say, meticulous about certain aspects of their life.

Myth 2: The main symptom of OCD is excessive hand-washing.

It's easy to picture someone washing their hands a bunch of times every day when we think of OCD — that's one of the most common compulsions portrayed.

But OCD behaviors can take a lot of forms, such as:

  1. Obsessions: Fears of contamination and illness; worries about harming others; preoccupation with numbers and patterns; fear of death, or loved ones dying.
  2. Compulsions: Excessive cleaning and double checking; careful arrangement of objects; walking in predetermined patterns.

Myth 3: Individuals with OCD don't understand that they're acting irrationally.

Lots of us with OCD understand that the relationship between our obsessions and compulsions is irrational or harmful and, at the very least, inconvenient. But that doesn't mean it's easy or even possible to make them stop.

People who have OCD find different ways to cope or manage their symptoms.

It's hard to know that your brain is lying while feeling forced to obey its irrational commands. Fortunately, people with OCD can seek treatment, such as medications, behavioral therapy that gradually desensitizes them to their anxieties, and in some cases, electroconvulsive therapy or surgery if the OCD isn't responding to other treatments.

People who have OCD often use one or more of these options to deal with their obsessions and compulsions. And some people with OCD simply choose to live with their thoughts and actions, and that's OK too.

If you know someone who deals with obsessive-compulsive disorder, be patient with them. It's not always easy to understand, but it's a real mental illness that can be difficult to live with.

Bottom line: If you keep your home super-organized but don't think terrible things will happen if you leave a dirty dish in the sink — and if you're actually capable of leaving it there, even if you don't like it — you probably don't have OCD.

Check out Natascha's full explainer here:

True

Anne Hebert, a marketing writer living in Austin, TX, jokes that her closest friends think that her hobby is "low-key harassment for social good". She authors a website devoted entirely to People Doing Good Things. She's hosted a yearly canned food drive with up to 150 people stopping by to donate, resulting in hundreds of pounds of donations to take to the food bank for the past decade.

"I try to share info in a positive way that gives people hope and makes them aware of solutions or things they can do to try to make the world a little better," she said.

For now, she's encouraging people through a barrage of persistent, informative, and entertaining emails with one goal in mind: getting people to VOTE. The thing about emailing people and talking about politics, according to Hebert, is to catch their attention—which is how lice got involved.

"When my kids were in elementary school, I was class parent for a year, which meant I had to send the emails to the other parents. As I've learned over the years, a good intro will trick your audience into reading the rest of the email. In fact, another parent told me that my emails always stood out, especially the one that started: 'We need volunteers for the Valentine's Party...oh, and LICE.'"

Hebert isn't working with a specific organization. She is simply trying to motivate others to find ways to plug in to help get out the vote.

Photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash

Keep Reading Show less
via KrustyKhajiit / YouTube

Thomas F. Wilson played one of the most recognizable villains in film history, Biff Tannen, in the "Back to the Future" series. So, understandably, he gets recognized wherever he goes for the iconic role.

The attention must be nice, but it has to get exhausting answering the same questions day in and day out about the films. So Wilson created a card that he carries with him to hand out to people that answers all the questions he gets asked on a daily basis.

Keep Reading Show less
Courtesy of FIELDTRIP
True

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected diverse communities due largely in part to social factors such as inadequate access to housing, income, dietary options, education and employment — all of which have been shown to affect people's physical health.

Recognizing that inequity, Harlem-based chef JJ Johnson sought out to help his community maximize its health during the pandemic — one grain at a time.

Johnson manages FIELDTRIP, a health-focused restaurant that strives to bring people together through the celebration of rice, a grain found in cuisines of countless cultures.

"It was very important for me to show the world that places like Harlem want access to more health-conscious foods," Johnson said. "The people who live in Harlem should have the option to eat fresh, locally farmed and delicious food that other communities have access to."

Lack of education and access to those healthy food options is a primary driver of why 31% of adults in Harlem are struggling with obesity — the highest rate of any neighborhood in New York City and 7% higher than the average adult obesity rate across the five boroughs.

Obesity increases risk for heart disease or diabetes, which in turn leaves Harlem's residents — who are 76% Black or LatinX — at heightened risk for complications with COVID-19.

Keep Reading Show less
via Marcella Mares / Facebook

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of disruption to people's work and family balance as well as their educational pursuits. These days, people are required to do just about everything simultaneously as they attempt to handle business while taking care of their children.

Marcella, mother to a 10-month-old girl, received an email from one of her instructors at Fresno City College in California, requiring all students to turn on their cameras and microphones during class time.

The request makes sense being that online classes make it easier for some students to take advantage by ignoring the instructor.

Keep Reading Show less
via WatchMojo / YouTube

There are two conflicting viewpoints when it comes to addressing culture from that past that contains offensive elements that would never be acceptable today.

Some believe that old films, TV shows, music or books with out-of-date, offensive elements should be hidden from public view. While others think they should be used as valuable tools that help us learn from the past.

Keep Reading Show less