OCD Articles

OCD: Sometimes It’s Not You, It’s the Situation

Friday, September 13th, 2013

OCD: Sometimes It's not You, It's the SituationVirginia Woolf, the 20th century English author who also suffered from mental illness, once wisely wrote “You cannot find peace by avoiding life.”

Recently, I was talking to my psychiatrist. It was another one of those “Do I or don’t I?” medication moments that people with mental illness routinely have to live with.

He had treated me for my obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) for about six months before I decided to be treated by another facility. I didn’t like the new facility’s recommendations, so I had gone back to this doctor for a second opinion.

The Disturbing Discrepancy & Double Standard Between Mental Illness & Other Health Concerns

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

The Disturbing Discrepancy & Double Standard Between Mental Illness & Other Health ConcernsIt would seem that the subject of mental illness has, at long last, captured the attention of the American public. Why, you may ask, is this so?

Perhaps it is the fact that when mind-boggling mass murders occur in such ordinary towns as Newtown, Conn. or Aurora, Colo., we are inundated with stories about the suspected mental state of the perpetrators.

Although the aforementioned individuals may suffer, or may have suffered, from any number of debilitating mental illnesses, the vast majority of the mentally ill are not violent. Unfortunately, their stories, and their daily struggles merely to survive, rarely make the 6 o’clock news.

Going to Battle with OCD is a ‘Colossal Struggle’

Sunday, August 11th, 2013

Going to Battle with OCD is a 'Colossal Struggle'I was quiet in high school. Some may have described me as a loner, but I did have friends. I was awkward and scared that I would be judged harshly if I spoke my mind. Some things that gave me comfort during the first years of being diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) were comedy (The Late Show with David Letterman), literature (Kurt Vonnegut), and music (Pearl Jam).

Society’s influence is at its worst during the teenage years. Sex and violence are pushed on teenagers through many different ways (music, TV, peers, et cetera).

I probably was somewhat of a loner because of these influences — along with having OCD, of course.

Can Distraction Contribute to Mental Illness?

Saturday, August 10th, 2013

Can Distraction Contribute to Mental Illness?When Shakespeare wrote of “distraction” in his plays and sonnets, however, he was not speaking of something that diverts our attention. Back then, the word was used to describe a state of mental disturbance or insanity. Even today, one definition of the word “distraction” can imply some degree of emotional upset.

So was Shakespeare onto something? 

Certainly we can be distracted and not experience mental illness. A loud noise, unruly children or a sudden rainstorm are all events that can distract us from what we’re doing at the moment. 

But can repetitive distraction — nonstop ringing phones, incessant email and text message interruptions, meetings and co-workers who need immediate attention — contribute to mental distress or even mental illness?

OCD & Chinatown

Sunday, July 21st, 2013

OCD & ChinatownOne way to explain obsessive-compulsive disorder involves a comparison to the old Roman Polanski film “Chinatown”, starring Jack Nicholson. Nicholson plays a detective investigating a suspicious California land developer (played by the director John Huston).

As in many detective thrillers, the closer he gets to the truth, the more chaos ensues. He uncovers an incestuous relationship, innocent characters are murdered, and in the final scene, his friend declares his efforts to make the situation right a lost cause, a tragedy (“It’s Chinatown, Jake”).

Thankfully, I don’t view obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) as negatively as the “Chinatown” plot. However, there are parallels.

5 Tips for Managing Anxiety During Transition

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

anxiety-1One of the primary characteristics of a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) is difficulty processing change. The uncertainty of a new path generates anxiety, sometimes so crippling that the person is unable to move forward on the new path in front of her.

I am reminded of that this month as I make the significant transition from a job as a defense contractor — a communications advisor to a cloud computing company, with comfortable benefits — to an unstable gig as a freelance writer crafting pieces on mental health. I am following my heart all right, as it’s racing to catch up with me.

Every time I sit down to write a piece, I second-guess myself and list all the reasons why I’m unqualified to write articles that will technically be read by a few people.

I have felt this way every time I move through a transition. And so I may know a thing or two about how to manage this kind of anxiety…

The Origins of Anxiety

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

The Origins of AnxietyAccording to author and psychiatrist Jeffrey P. Kahn, M.D., in his book Angst: Origins of Anxiety & Depression, today’s disorders might’ve been yesterday’s valuable social instincts.

Today’s panic disorder might’ve prevented our ancestors from venturing to potentially dangerous places, far away from their families and tribes.

Today’s social anxiety might’ve maintained social hierarchies and peace in primitive times.

Today’s obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) might’ve helped our ancestors keep tidy and safe nests.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in the Media

Sunday, April 28th, 2013

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in the MediaSometimes, I overhear people casually using the term “OCD” (obsessive-compulsive disorder). They’re ‘OCD with being clean’ or ‘OCD with organizational skills.’

In fact, however, a real struggle with OCD is a manifestation of anxiety that creates an actual disturbance in one’s life.

Lena Dunham, creator/ writer/ producer/ star of the HBO award-winning series “Girls,” showcased the leading character, Hannah, (played by Dunham herself) in very raw and honest encounters with the illness toward the end of this past season. Hannah had dealt with OCD in high school. It resurfaced when she was faced with two significant stressors: trying to write an e-book in a short time frame, and dealing with the rocky aftermath of a breakup.

Whether the scenes illustrated episodes of relentless tics, counting, or a compulsive habit that brought her to the emergency room, “Girls” took on authentic territory that invited other OCD sufferers to feel less alone.

How to Stop Worrying about Worrying

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

How to Stop Worrying about WorryingSir Winston Churchill, who battled plenty of demons, once said, “When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.”

Unfortunately that advice wouldn’t have been able to stop me from praying rosary after rosary when I was in fourth grade to avert going to hell, nor does it quiet the annoying noise and chatter inside my brain today in any given hour. But the fact that a great leader battled the worry war does provide me some consolation.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a chronic worrier without an official diagnosis or battling severe obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a neurobehavioral disorder that involves repetitive unwanted thoughts and rituals. The steps to overcome faulty beliefs and develop healthy patterns of thinking are the same.

Some Ideas to Help Stop Obsessing

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

Some Ideas to Help Stop ObsessingFor as long as I can remember I’ve struggled with obsessive thoughts, with severe ruminations that can interfere with daily life. My thoughts get stuck on something and like a broken record, repeat a certain fear over and over and over again until I scream out loud, “STOP IT!”

The French call Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder “folie de doute,” the doubting disease. That’s what obsessions are — a doubt caught in an endless loop of thoughts.

But even those not diagnosed with OCD can struggle with obsessions. In fact, I have yet to meet a depressive who doesn’t ruminate, especially in our age of anxiety. Every day gives sensitive types like myself plenty of material to obsess about. So I’m constantly pulling out the tools that I’ve acquired over time to win against my thoughts, to develop confidence — the antidote for doubt — to take charge of my brain, and to stop obsessing. I hope they work for you too.

The Golden Rule of Habit Change

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

The Golden Rule of Habit ChangeIn the last decade, our understanding of the neurology of habit formation has been transformed.

A quiet revolution has upended our concept of the way patterns work within our lives, societies, and organizations. And much of what we have learned has come from studying the simplest of habits — such as why people bite their nails.

In the summer of 2006, for instance, a 24-year-old graduate student named Mandy walked into the counseling center at Mississippi State University. For most of her life, Mandy had bitten her nails, gnawing them until they bled.

Lots of people bite their nails. For chronic nail biters, however, it’s a problem of a different scale.

Video: Anxious? You’re Not Alone: Check Out These Anxiety Blogs

Saturday, May 12th, 2012

I am not the only person with an anxiety disorder.

Likewise, you are not the only person with an anxiety disorder.

But it can sure feel that way sometimes, eh? Especially on days when everyone else at the party is acting super sociable, but you’re slunked (is that a word?) down in a corner and too dizzy to talk to anyone.

It’s easy to feel alone on days when everyone else seems to be gathering their groceries from the store shelves just fine, but you’re still hovering in the breezeway, leaning on your cart, and trying to muster up the courage to walk inside.

And it’s easy to feel alone at work, too. Everyone else can pay attention to the corporate PowerPoint presentation in the conference room, but you’re sitting next to the closed door, thinking about how far you are from the office restroom, and flexing your leg muscles for a quick escape.

Every time we say “I am alone!” we are lying.

We are not alone in our struggles…and I made a video, just for you, to prove it:

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