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OCD deserves the same respect that we pay to other common mental illnesses

Austin Schultz

Obsessive-compulsive disorder seems sometimes to be used more as a punchline by your friends than a diagnosis by a psychiatrist. But like any mental illness, OCD deserves the same respect that we pay to other common mental illnesses like depressive disorders.

OCD is one of many illnesses in the anxiety family along with panic disorder, social phobias, generalized anxiety, and others. It shares symptoms with numerous other mental illnesses and often co-exists with other illnesses as well. In fact, in some ways OCD is really two illnesses in one. The obsession part involves unwanted and intrusive thoughts or mental images that the individual knows are illogical or irrational but cannot control them. They commonly involve things like fear of coming into contact with germs, or fear of causing harm to yourself or others. In response to these obsessions, the compulsion aspect causes the individual to perform very specific actions over and over again despite not wanting to perform them and not getting any pleasure from them. In fact, the compulsions may not be related to the obsessions at all, other than a belief that failure to perform the actions will make their anxiety worse. Left untreated, the compulsions - such as arranging items on a table or washing hands - take up more and more time and make it difficult to maintain employment or social relationships.

Anxiety disorders are generally very treatable, and even more so the earlier they are diagnosed. So please don’t wait if you or someone you love is experiencing these concerns. Get help now and keep a mental health issue from turning into a mental illness.

Eric Litwiller has served the south central Kansas community through his work at Mental Health Association since September of 2017. As Director of Development and Communications, he is charged with seeking the private investment required to raise awareness of the scope of mental health concerns throughout the region in an effort to eliminate the unfair stigma associated with mental illness.