When it comes to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), there is a wide range of misconceptions about exactly what it is and how it affects people’s lives.

When we hear the term OCD, most of us think of Jack Nicholson in As Good as It Gets or the main character in the TV show Monk. As entertaining as the shows might be, the OCD stereotypes they portray are simply false.

OCD is a mental illness, characterized by intrusive thoughts, that is experienced by roughly 1% of Americans every year and nearly half of these are considered severe cases.

Even though there are many more people with OCD than other major diseases, few truly understand what it means to live with an anxiety disorder like OCD. Just like other types of mental illness, OCD is widely misunderstood by the public and leaves a stigma on those who must live with its reality.

Since “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing” (and the internet is full of it) here are several common myths about OCD that we can dispel so we can increase our understanding of what OCD is.

Myth 1: Everyone Can Be a “Bit OCD”

Instead of considering OCD as a serious mental health condition, most people consider OCD as a character trait or personality quirk. Yes, people can be compulsive or obsessive about certain things, but those with OCD, unlike most people, simply don’t have a choice about their obsessions and compulsions. Their neurological makeup is different than people without OCD. They can’t turn it off.

Myth 2: People with OCD Are Neat Freaks

Everyone has heard someone say, “I’m so OCD” while organizing their home or work area. In actuality, they are “So not OCD.” Nobody shivering out in the cold would say, “Wow, I’m such an epileptic.”

People with OCD experience severe emotional distress and high levels of anxiety. A lot of people enjoy cleaning and organizing. People with OCD do not. They have to clean. If they did not, they very well could have a panic attack.

Not all people with OCD have cleanliness compulsions. In fact, the repetitive tasks they perform might even go unnoticed by most people. They might have obsessions related to unwanted sexual thoughts, losing control, or hurting others.

Myth 3: OCD Is All About Cleaning, Being a “Germaphobe”

Different people with OCD can be obsessed with a whole host of different things. Only some of them have a compulsion that is related to keeping themselves and/or the world around them clean.

Compulsions in people with OCD might include:

  • Fear of committing a sin
  • Fear of someone dying
  • Fear of germ contamination
  • Fear of hurting themselves or others
  • Fear of being a sexual predator
  • Fear of a certain color, word, or numbers

Symptoms of OCD are meant to combat these fears. These compulsive behaviors include repeating certain movements, washing their hands, counting, praying, cleaning excessively, hoarding, arranging things in a specific way, and tapping objects.

Myth 4: Everyone with OCD Is Simply Neurotic. They’ll Never Be Able to Function or Be Happy

It’s quite possible for those with OCD to have productive lives.

With the right treatment for OCD, which may include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and medication, many with OCD are living fulfilling lives.

The most recommended form of therapy for OCD is exposure and response prevention (ERP). This kind of behavioral therapy exposes people to stimuli that can provoke their obsessions and at the same time help prevent their compulsive responses.

In addition, anti-depressants like SSRIs may be prescribed for those with OCD. Family therapy has also been found to be beneficial and some with OCD look to join support groups to talk and hear others who are going through the same experiences.

Learn More About Clinical Trials in Boston

Are you interested in participating in a clinical trial for obsessive-compulsive disorder? We have a wide variety of clinical trials available if you qualify and meet specific criteria.

Learn more here