It’s My OCD…

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It’s My OCD…

When you walk into stores, most of the time you see everything neat and organized, and people often assume this would please those with OCD (Photo courtesy of Savannah Garrison).

When you walk into stores, most of the time you see everything neat and organized, and people often assume this would please those with OCD (Photo courtesy of Savannah Garrison).

Savannah Garrison

When you walk into stores, most of the time you see everything neat and organized, and people often assume this would please those with OCD (Photo courtesy of Savannah Garrison).

Savannah Garrison

Savannah Garrison

When you walk into stores, most of the time you see everything neat and organized, and people often assume this would please those with OCD (Photo courtesy of Savannah Garrison).

As a kid, you may have heard the song “My OCD” by Rhett & Link of Good Mythical Morning. The video depicts a young man who goes to therapy for OCD and cannot control his impulses to organize the things he is given and shown. But what exactly is OCD? And how is it different than perfectionism?

Perfect is the enemy of good” (Cleveland Clinic healthessentials) Feeling the need to have everything perfect isn’t as grand as it may seem. 

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, is nothing to joke about. According to Cleveland Clinic healthessentials, “OCD is a mental health disorder that involves repeated, unwanted thoughts or urges that cause a person anxiety.” For example, someone with OCD may have to wash their hands three times in a row for fear of germs and to make themselves feel better about being safe from bacteria. In other instances, they may have obsessive thoughts about their own safety, as well as their loved ones. These people know that they don’t really have to do these strange actions, but they can’t help it. If they don’t, then they will gain an intolerable amount of anxiety. OCD is heavily related to anxiety because it’s what brings the feeling on! OCD can affect friendships, relationships, marriage, and daily life. Some people with OCD may have to do things repeatedly, just to make themselves feel safe.

What’s this talk about perfectionism? Well, perfectionism is very often confused with OCD. Yes, it involves constantly organizing things and making sure everything in place, but it doesn’t necessarily happen all the time. What this means is that if perfectionists forget to wash their hands thoroughly, they wouldn’t have extreme anxiety when thinking of germs. The CCI explains that there are three key parts to perfectionism; “1. The relentless striving for extremely high standards (for yourself and/or others) that are personally demanding, in the context of the individual. 2. Judging your self-worth based largely on your ability to strive for and achieve such unrelenting standards. 3. Experiencing negative consequences of setting such demanding standards, yet continuing to go for them despite the huge cost to you.” To sum up what perfectionism is, it’s “the pursuit of flawlessness” as stated by the Cleveland Clinic. 

So, OCD is much more severe than perfectionism, but what really are the differences? Both OCD and perfectionism can create some anxiety problems, but perfectionism will never need medication or therapy for it, unlike OCD. A perfectionist doesn’t get frustrated over not having everything done in the same order as the day before. A perfectionist doesn’t have the extreme compulsion to do things over and over in fear of losing a loved one. Those with OCD go about their day with uncontrollable negative thoughts about themselves for doing the things they feel like they have to do. They worry excessively about everything that could go wrong. 

A perfectionist cannot have the key symptoms of OCD. How can someone tell if they have OCD? You can’t point out habits you do that are linked to OCD and diagnose yourself with it – that’s not how it works. There are some severe symptoms that may be caused by OCD, but don’t diagnose yourself until you go to the psychiatrist or psychologist. These symptoms can include: Obsessions, compulsions, agitation, excessive hoarding, and meaningless repetition of words and actions. Not all of these symptoms have to show up in order for you to go talk to your local doctor/therapist. 

As for diagnosing yourself, online quizzes are never precise and you should never rely on them as your consultant. Psychology Today states, “…you may think that there is more wrong with you than there actually is. For example, if you had insomnia, inattention and depression, you may believe that you have a sleep disorder, ADD and major depression.” When you go and try and solve your medical problems by yourself, it more often than not makes you worry more than normal, which can create the feeling of angst and nervousness. Always go to a mental health therapist before you diagnose yourself with OCD. OCD can be triggered by past traumatic experiences. It can be pacified with serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which is an antidepressant. MayoClinic lists all the prescribed medicine approved by the FDA, a couple of which are Fluoxetine (Prozac) for adults and children 7 years and older and Fluvoxamine for adults and children 8 years and older. 

Behavioral therapy is also an excellent and easily accessible alternative instead of using medication. There are different types of psychotherapy as well, including exposure and response prevention. So before you go around mindlessly saying you have OCD, think on what OCD really is and realize that perhaps maybe you’re just a perfectionist or control freak? 

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