Living with OCD during the COVID-19 crisis
We have been practicing social distancing for a couple of months now. Due to the social distancing people are bound to self- isolation. In this situation, even the mentally healthy people are going through frustration. Some of the common symptoms we can observe are stress, irritability, emotional distress, fear, panic, insomnia, etc. Anxiety disorders, mood disorders, trauma-related disorders, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are some of the major mental health concerns that many people are going through during this lockdown.
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What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental health disorder that can create unwanted thoughts or obsessions or the urge to do something over and over again. It is estimated that approximately one adult in two hundred is diagnosed with OCD each year.
- OCD can occur in both adults and children.
- OCD is twice as common in boy children than in girls.
- In adults, the number of men and women with OCD is equal in adults.
OCD and COVID-19
Most people along with the government, media and celebrities are sharing information about the washing – hand techniques all over social media and are asking people to wash hands repeatedly. These pieces of advice are helpful to avoid infections from the disease, but does this lead to positive impacts on people with OCD?
- Have you washed your hands?
- Have you followed a proper hand-washing seven steps?
- Do you scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds?
- Have you cleaned the doorknobs and light switches?
These are some of the questions you might have been hearing everywhere since the virus scare.
Following these things like washing hands and maintaining cleanliness may not affect many people but may affect people with OCD who obsess over cleanliness.
COVID-19 affected symptoms
- Contamination Obsessions
People with OCD may have a fear of being contaminated. People could catch COVID 19 by contaminated objects, contaminated surfaces, doorknobs or light switches, and shaking hands.
When they are in contact with the contaminated items, it causes anxiety and then most of the people with OCD will wash or clean their hands excessively. They may wash hands for a number of times like eight times after touching something that could be dirty in order to get some relief from their anxiety. They believe it would protect them from the virus.
So, the people living with OCD may have fear of transmission and engage themselves in excessive washing.
- Thought of harming others
People with Harm OCD have intrusive thoughts of harming yourself or causing harm to others.
In this situation where COVID 19 has been spreading all over the world, you might get anxious about getting infected from the virus and also have fear of infecting others.
Related Article: LIVING WITH SOMEONE WITH OCD
How to manage OCD during COVID-19?
Here are some of the tips for you to deal with OCD during COVID 19:
- Seek news from trustworthy sources like the World Health Organization and CDC (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- Don’t watch or read the news every time.
- Practice social distancing.
- Disinfect surfaces once a day.
- Wash your hands for 20 seconds before eating food, after using the bathroom, after being outside, after you have sneezed, etc. If hand wash or soap and water is not available you can use a hand sanitizer that has at least 60% alcohol.
- Take time to do things you enjoy like listening to songs, dancing, singing, watching movies, reading good books, getting fresh air, etc.
If you or someone you know has OCD and find the quarantine/ lockdown stressful, the symptoms might get worse. So, consult a professional clinical psychologist or psychiatrist as soon as possible. It is normal to be anxious about the coronavirus. Be kind to yourself.
You are doing your best to overcome this situation.