Understanding OCD important in helping people

Many people repeat thoughts in their heads, or occasionally think of things that make them anxious.

There’s a difference, though, between having occasional unpleasant mental images and having them repeatedly to the point they interfere with a persons wellbeing.

Obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD, is a mental health condition that affects about 2 million adults in the United States.

However, OCD, which has a neurological basis, is more than just washing hands over and over.

It can be double-checking, or maybe even quadruple-checking, whether an oven has been turned off or a door has been locked.

Some people with OCD perform tasks according to a particular numeric pattern. If someone believes the number seven is good, that person might feel compelled to take seven steps at a time to avoid being hurt.

Having a clean desk is one thing, but a person suffering from OCD might feel the desk has to be clean as opposed to wanting it to be clean.

It might be easy to just tell people to dismiss those thoughts or behaviors. Since OCD is physiological in nature, though, that can be nearly impossible.

What’s recommended is cognitive-behavioral therapy, which involves exposure and response prevention, and cognitive therapy, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. A therapist with specialized training conducts the CBT.

So, finding a good therapist is crucial, plus the proper medication might help.

As with many mental health conditions, it should be understood that they are just that — health conditions — and mocking or criticizing the person with the condition is not only cruel, it could prevent that person from seeking help.

The more people are open about having OCD, the more they are likely to be helped. It also will increase understanding among people who don’t suffer from the condition, but may encounter someone who does.

The greater the public empathy for OCD sufferers, the greater the public good.