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August 12, 2020

Coronavirus and OCD (A Germaphobes Worst Nightmare)

by Thomas Hlubin, Owner & CEO

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is spreading around the world like wildfire at what appears to be at an exponential rate. In fact, as I write this very sentence, thousands of people have already perished because of the virus. What was completely unknown to most people in 2019, at the turn of the new decade, all everyone seems to be talking about is the coronavirus, and for good reason.

Even with the efforts of our most developed governments, one thing seems crystal clear: We are not prepared for a pandemic of this magnitude.

Although I clearly fear contracting the coronavirus myself, what I am more fearful of are those people who are blinded by ignorance, partisanship, and sheer stupidity as these are the people who are not taking the virus seriously, and are thereby more susceptible to not only contracting it themselves, but to spreading it to healthy people as well.

The odious ramblings of individuals who sanctimoniously profess that the coronavirus is but a renamed version of the flu is what we really need to worry about here for the aforementioned reasons I just touched upon.

It is clear that tensions are rising around the globe and paranoia is high. The spread of the coronavirus is making normal everyday people behave in ways that would seem pathological in lieu of such a pandemic. Excessive worry about germs, the hoarding of essential products (good luck finding toilet paper), excessive cleaning, and self-induced quarantining are the norm at this moment in time.

The aforementioned behavior in people’s response to the coronavirus appears to be analogous to the symptoms expressed in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and mysophobia (fear of germs). However, in this instance, their convictions and behaviors are undeniably justified.

It is a combination of the rising number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus, the increasing number of deaths as each day passes, the number of cases and deaths that we are unaware of, as well as the vast number of people who are either hyperbolically sanguine or insouciant toward how dangerous the coronavirus is that makes those suffering from OCD to be experiencing a sort of hell that was once thought to only exist in their darkest nightmares.

I, myself, have OCD and have had it since I was a teenager. Although I am far removed from the days when I suffered from severe OCD (thanks to years of therapy and medication), a great number of individuals diagnosed with this anxiety disorder are not as fortunate as I am to have reduced my symptoms to the extent I have over the past several years.

I can think back to a time when I used to behave analogously to how people are behaving right now toward the coronavirus, but without any sort of pandemic going on. I was simply stuck in a paralyzing mind-loop of obsessions and compulsions every single day. If you yourself suffer from OCD, then you are all too familiar with what such a life is like.

My heart goes out to not only those who have contracted the coronavirus and who have perished because of it, but also to those with anxiety disorders, specifically OCD, seeing as how pernicious and psychologically agonizing this condition can truly be in the wake of this pandemic.

There is not much advice I have to give on how to cope with the fear associated with the coronavirus disease because I believe that the most extreme forms of cleanliness and isolation are completely justified in this instance. Assuredly, this is antithetical to what any sane therapist would ever tell her OCD riddled client. However, these are not normal times.

If you suffer from OCD and notice that your symptoms are becoming increasingly worse as the coronavirus death toll rises, then I implore you to reach out for help and try to find a mental health professional as soon as you can. If you already have a therapist, then it may be in your best interest to engage in more frequent therapy sessions via teletherapy or even to increase your medication dosage insofar as the intensity of your obsessions and compulsions worsen as the coronavirus worsens.

For more information on the coronavirus, click on the links below.


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