There is a lot of confusion surrounding obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), such as what the symptoms are like, how to treat it, and so on.
Although it’s clear that the average person could care less about OCD, or any other mental disorder or physical disease that they’ve faintly heard about, their interest is precipitously spiked when they or someone they love gets diagnosed with it.
While it is unequivocal that ignorance is a large reason as to why stigma toward mental illness is as pervasive as it is, the potency of this ignorance is multiplied by many factors when we allow such myths to persist unchecked.
Now, with every unique mental disorder that exists there are myths that are unique to the specific condition. And being that I know firsthand how painful OCD can be, it only makes sense that I try to debunk some common misconceptions about this particular condition.
If you yourself suffer from OCD, then you should talk to your doctor to discuss your symptoms so to come up with a treatment plan.
If this isn’t feasible for you or if you’re too anxious to meet with a medical professional face to face and would rather an online approach, then you may greatly benefit by trying out BetterHelp Counseling. Either way, you should never let your symptoms go untreated.
Below, you’ll see what I believe are the 6 most common myths about OCD.
#1 People with OCD are Germaphobes
A common symptom of OCD is excessive hand-washing or excessively worrying about germs in general. Although this may be the case for the majority of people with OCD, this does not mean that it is a criterion of the condition. Some people obsess about germs, while others obsess about orderliness. Oftentimes, the exact causes of these differences is but a mystery.
#2 People with OCD can’t be Helped
Just because some people may convince themselves that they are hopeless or that they’ve tried all the drugs and had dozens of different therapists, this isn’t intimation that OCD is untreatable. For such a person, it only means that you have successfully figured out what doesn’t help you. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most common ways to treat OCD. This, along with a small dose of an anti-depression medication may also help to reduce symptoms of OCD, although that should first be discussed with your physician of course.
#3 You can Talk Yourself Out of Your OCD
This is unfortunately the case with many mental disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder. As long as you don’t have a psychotic disorder or a personality disorder, then you can just rationalize your way out of your obsessive thoughts, right? No, this is a ridiculous conviction that too many people withhold. OCD is due to a chemical imbalance in the brain, not due to fallaciousness. Oftentimes, trying to talk yourself out of your OCD only makes it worse.
#4 OCD isn’t a Real Mental Disorder
The apocryphal statement that OCD isn’t a real mental illness is due to how “more normal” the condition appears to be when juxtaposed to say, antisocial personality disorder (sociopathy) or schizophrenia. Even though OCD may not appear to be as painful or debilitating as schizophrenia, it undoubtedly can be insofar as a persons’ symptoms of OCD were on the severe end of the spectrum that is. There is a reason why OCD is in the DSM-5 and it is not because the researchers who authored it were too torpid to remove it.
#5 Children cannot get OCD
It has been shown that OCD can manifest as early as 5, although they may not and likely will not realize that they are suffering from psychopathology per se, but that they are instead just suffering psychologically in a way that diminishes their quality of life, regardless of how simplistic such a hindrance may be.
OCD often develops in childhood and is then expressed in adulthood. That’s how it was with me. I can recall having several symptoms of OCD as a very young boy, probably around the age of 5. Were these symptoms enough to get me diagnosed with OCD? Probably not. Nevertheless, it is indeed the case for some children.
#6 OCD Goes Away with Age
A family doctor I used to have, from age 0-26ish, told me once that he used to have OCD, but that it just went away naturally with age.
It was a statement such as this which made me realize that even brilliant people can have moments of eyebrow raising stupidity. It was clear that whatever he suffered from, it was not OCD, that is, unless he failed to convey to me the years of therapy and medication he received as he worked toward reducing his obsessive thoughts and embarrassing compulsions.
OCD doesn’t go away with age just like sociopathy or schizophrenia doesn’t go away with age, unless of course, throughout the years that person made it a point to make their mental health a priority and worked very hard to reduce their symptoms. Still though, it doesn’t just disappear. To say such an asinine statement is akin to saying that your financial debt improved as you have gotten older not due to parsimony or wise investments, but due to the natural passage of time.
Now, while there are surely more myths about OCD that are worthy of debunking, I feel as though the ones I listed here are some of the most pervasive. And this is only the tip of the iceberg, with regards to mental illness that is. There are a slew of various other myths regarding virtually every other mental disorder that exists and even with emotionality in general.
I hope I have helped to debunk some common myths about OCD, as well as helped to reduce the unfortunate stigma associated with not only OCD, but of mental illness as a whole.
Thomas is the founder and CEO of PsychTimes.com. He deeply enjoys writing about psychology, mental health, well-being, and ethics. Besides writing, he’s also deeply interested in the many different aspects of digital marketing, specifically search engine optimization. It is due to his love of both psychology and digital marketing, as well as his deep desire to help people who are suffering from mental illness which has inspired him to create this very site.