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19 Interesting Facts About OCD to Help Us Understand

19 Interesting Facts About OCD to Help Us Understand

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You undoubtedly know a demanding individual who organizes their wardrobe by color or a germaphobe who always has a supply of hand sanitizer on hand. However, OCD, short for obsessive-compulsive disorder, is not always indicated by peculiarities like these.

Obsessive-compulsive disease (OCD) is a mental anxiety disorder that causes recurrent thoughts or ideas about various things. These can include fears of violence, dirt, or intruders, injuring loved ones, engaging in sexual activity, or maintaining an excessively clean environment. These behaviors and thoughts can significantly impact your daily life and often require treatment.

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19 Interesting Facts About OCD

Whether you have OCD or know someone who does, learning about this complicated disorder is essential. Here are 19 interesting facts about OCD you should be aware of.

1. Famous People Suffer From OCD

Many famous people are known to have OCD, from celebrities to scientists. These notable figures include Charles Darwin, Cameron Diaz, Harrison Ford, Albert Einstein, and Daniel Radcliffe. David Beckham is probably the most famous celebrity with OCD, as he is quite open about his disorder.

2. OCD Causes Anxiety

If you have OCD, chances are you also have anxiety. Constant obsessive thoughts and the need to stick to routines and follow rituals can cause severe anxiety in people, especially in unknown situations where they can’t follow these compulsions.

Some of the most common OCD symptoms that are caused by anxiety or can cause stress include:

  • Repeatedly checking things, like if the door is locked or the oven is off.
  • Rearranging things to ensure a specific order or symmetry.
  • Counting the number of objects in front of them or letters and words in a sentence.
  • Repeating actions in multiples, such as switching the light off and on five times. Some people will repeat the action until it feels like it’s been done a ‘good’ amount of times.
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3. A Fear of Dirt or Getting Dirty Can Be a Sign of OCD in Children

OCD symptoms usually appear in adolescence, but early signs can be spotted in children. One of them is a fear of dirt. We all know that children love to get dirty as they play; it causes parents a lot of laundry and grief. However, if your child is wary of getting dirty, this could be an early sign that they may develop OCD.

Of course, this is not true for every child. Other symptoms you can look out for include a strict need for order and precision, constantly making things symmetrical, repetitive handwashing, preoccupation with bodily waste, and unusual rituals such as repeating words you say or needing to walk over certain things, like cracks, in a specific way.

These signs are often quirks in kids that they usually grow out of. However, if it’s interfering with their daily lives, it might be worth chatting with your pediatrician or GP.

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4. Children Won’t Realise Their Behavior Is Odd

The main difference between OCD in adults and children is that adults usually know that their actions or thoughts are not typical. Children, however, won’t pick up on that and won’t usually come to you and say something is wrong. 

They’re not as aware of their behavior as adults and thus won’t notice if they switch the kitchen light on and off ten times or walk on their toes up the stairs.

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5. Around 1.2% of Adults in the US Have OCD

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has estimated that around 1.2% of adults in the United States have OCD. Diane Davey, the program director at the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Institute at McLean Hospital and a registered nurse, has stated that OCD is not an exotic illness and is actually very common.

Chances are good that you know someone who has OCD. However, people with OCD often feel ashamed of their disorder and will try to hide it. So, the person making jokes about having OCD definitely doesn’t actually suffer from it just because they like to organize their closet every week.

6. There Are Many Symptoms of OCD

The main symptoms of OCD can be divided into two categories:

  • Obsessions: Recurrent and persistent urges, thoughts, or impulses.
  • Compulsions: Repetitive behaviors or behaviors the individual feels driven to do in response to an obsession.

7. There Are Many Types of OCD

OCD can be subdivided into different types that depend on the symptoms shown by the individual. These include:

  • Checking: A constant need to check that certain things are done or working fine, such as if the oven is off or the smoke detector has batteries.
  • Contamination: A fear of dirt, germs, or any sort of contamination. Symptoms include repetitive cleaning, washing, and disinfecting.
  • Hoarding: The compulsive need to collect things and keep possessions even if there’s no space for them.
  • Symmetry: The constant need to arrange things in a specific way to avoid anxiety and distress.
  • Rumination: Intrusive thoughts that are usually violent, sexual, or religious in nature.
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8. A Not So Well Known Form of OCD Is Called Pure Obsessions

Rumination, or Pure Obsessions OCD, is usually the form of OCD that is portrayed on TV and in movies. However, it’s only one form of OCD and is usually very misunderstood. It is characterized by sexually inappropriate and even highly violent thoughts. 

These can include fears of homosexuality, blasphemous images, and even child molestation. People with this type of OCD don’t know how to control or stop these thoughts and don’t have any uncontrollable actions that make them feel better and make the thoughts go away for a while.

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9. People Don’t Know That Hoarding Is a Form of OCD

Have you ever watched the show Hoarders and wondered how these people could allow themselves to live in such disastrous environments? Well, OCD is usually the cause of that. 

This form of OCD is characterized by a compulsive need to collect and keep worthless items such as newspapers, magazines, milk cartons, plastic bags, etc., in case they might need them in the future. 

10. OCD Doesn’t Discriminate – It Affects All Types of People

Research states that around 2.3% of people will suffer from a form of OCD at some point in their lives. There is no difference in the rates of OCD among men and women; ethnicity and culture don’t usually significantly affect who might develop OCD. 

The current risk factors are as follows:

  • Gender: Men and women are equally likely to develop OCD in adolescence. However, males are more likely to develop OCD during adulthood.
  • Age: Individuals are more likely to develop OCD in late adolescence. The risk of developing OCD drops as you get older.
  • Genetics: Having family members with OCD does increase the risk that you might develop it. The closer the person is to you (your mother/father is more immediate than your aunt/uncle), the higher the risk. If your family member’s OCD started in childhood or adolescence, the risk is even higher that you will develop OCD.
  • Brain Structure: Research isn’t entirely clear on this one. However, it is believed that there is a connection between OCD and irregularities in the brain.
  • Traumatic Events: Traumatic and stressful events, such as sexual abuse, illness, or the death of a loved one, can increase your risk of developing OCD.
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11. OCD Could Be Genetic

For the most part, we don’t know what causes OCD to appear. However, researchers have found that the brains of people with OCD are different in some ways from people without OCD. Specifically, there’s a difference in the circuit that links important parts of the brain, like the thalamus, striatum, and parts of the frontal cortex. There is excessive activity in the frontal regions of the brains of OCD sufferers, which can contribute to intrusive thoughts and overwhelming anxiety.

It also tends to run in families and could be because of the difference in brain structure being a genetic factor. If your parent or sibling has OCD, the chances are higher that you might develop it too.

12. OCD Is Not Psychosis but More a Form of Anxiety

Even though it may feel like your intrusive and compulsive thoughts make you lose touch with reality, OCD does not cause psychosis. People with this disorder don’t actually dissociate from reality as people with schizophrenia might. 

Individuals with OCD are very aware of their symptoms and their thoughts. They know it’s completely irrational, just like anxious people understand their feelings can be unreasonable. However, as much as they know their symptoms, people with these disorders cannot stop them from occurring.

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13. There Is Likely No OCD Gene, Even if It’s Genetic

OCD is incredibly complex, and even though there is proof of different brain structures and that the disorder runs in families, no single OCD gene has been identified. The leading theory is that people in the same families usually deal with similar traumas and life experiences that can heighten the risk of OCD. 

However, and yes, this is confusing; a genetic link has also been identified. In a study of twins and OCD, it has been proven that if one twin has the disorder, the other is more likely to develop it. Basically, OCD is extremely complicated and has stumped many scientists and researchers.

14. It’s Rare, but Some Children Have Developed OCD After a Strep Infection

Most children who have a strep infection recover fully with no issues. However, some children have started developing obsessive thoughts or compulsions a few weeks after the infection has cleared up. This can be in the form of personality changes, mood swings, and separation anxiety.

Children who develop these symptoms may have PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections). If your child develops any strange behaviors after a strep infection, it might be worth assessing them with your GP.

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15. OCD Is Not Just a Fear of Germs

According to the American Psychiatric Association, people with OCD have widely varying obsessions that are usually more than just a fear of germs. Some individuals indeed have an aversion to dirt, germs, and bodily fluids. However, others have thoughts about harming others or themselves or getting a disease. 

Some people obsess over perfection and will ensure everything is done correctly or placed symmetrically. Some people are overly superstitious and will go to all lengths to avoid black cats and cracks in the pavement. OCD has many symptoms to varying degrees and is quite complicated to diagnose correctly.

16. Life Events Can Trigger OCD Episodes

In a study done in 2012 published in the Psychiatry Research Journal, researchers have identified that three major traumatic events are linked to OCD symptoms, especially in women. These include hospitalization of a family member, loss of a valuable object, or major personal physical illness.

However, less serious events can also trigger OCD symptoms to show face. An E.coli outbreak that is only limited to meat can still trigger a vegetarian with OCD to start worrying if they have E.coli, even though they don’t come into contact with meat.

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17. OCD Is Usually Co-Morbid With Other Disorders

If you have OCD, the chances are high that you also have another mental illness, such as ADHD, depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, or substance abuse. 

The presence of other conditions makes identifying OCD so complicated, as the signs can overlap with symptoms from other illnesses. If someone has Tourette’s syndrome and OCD, the OCD diagnosis might be missed because of overlap with the repetitive behaviors of Tourette’s syndrome.

18. Therapy and Medication Are First Line Treatments

When you get diagnosed with OCD, your therapist will usually recommend two types of treatments – cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and oral medication such as Fluoxetine (Prozac) and Sertraline (Zoloft). 

These two are usually used together to lessen the severity of OCD symptoms. According to the International OCD Foundation, around 70% of people find relief in their OCD symptoms while using medication and/or undergoing therapy.

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19. OCD Is Chronic

Unfortunately, there is no cure for OCD. Treatment has proven quite effective for symptoms of the disorders, though, and many people have found relief from their constant obsessions and compulsions. 

Just because you are diagnosed with OCD does not mean your life has to be severely impacted. If you think you might have some symptoms that are interfering with your daily life, it’s always best to talk to a professional and know there is help available.

New Interesting Facts Checker

At New Interesting Facts, we have an editorial policy and a 3 step review process to ensure we get our facts straight. However, we are a very small team, and we sometimes get it wrong, or information becomes outdated. Please let us know if you think we’ve gotten something wrong.

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