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#OCDAwareness Week 2022!

Each year we have an opportunity to spotlight and bring awareness to obsessive compulsive (OCD) and spectrum of disorders. This week we will be sharing information about OCD with the hopes that it will bring more awareness to our community.

Many people have heard of or even possibly known somebody that suffers with OCD. Just this weekend my family and I were at a local pumpkin patch where we inevitably were standing in line waiting for face painting. As I am my father’s son, I found myself having a conversation with an aeronautical engineer and the topic of my career came up. “I’m an therapist who focuses on the treatment of OCD,” I remarked. That’s when the most typical of responses comes up. “Oh! Yeah I’ve heard of OCD. Have you ever seen (insert typical pop culture reference for OCD here).”

It really is often the case that those references aren’t too far off; however, it rarely paints the most clear picture. The hand washing pop culture OCD doesn’t always show just how painful, and debilitating it can be. It won’t show the cracked or bloody hands from those are are washing their hands 50, 60, 70+ times in a day for uncountable amounts of minutes. The hours long showers multiple times a day just to feel comfortable.

It doesn’t really show the mother who fears about harming their child. Experiencing intrusive images about harming their child down to very gruesome details. The teacher who may have pedophilia OCD (P-OCD) who finds it hard to go to, and stay at, work because they fear they are a monster. Or the religious obsessions that lead to hours of prayer or seeking out of religious leaders to abate their fears of blasphemy or sin.

No, Hollywood and many others, although doing their best to capture the essence of OCD, often fall short of giving the full explanation. Thats why this week can be so important for us. Those of us who treat OCD. Those who suffer with OCD. The families of those who care for a suffer with OCD.

So what EXACTLY is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder? Obsessive compulsive disorder, best known as OCD, is a mental health disorder that occurs within about 1 in 100 children and 1 in 40 adults (or between 2-3% of the population). OCD exhibits itself in obsessions that lead to compulsive behaviors that result in abatement of their anxiety or fear. If one has the fear of having bacteria or germs on their skin (obsession), that will result in hand washing or showering (compulsion) to relief their anxiety.

Compulsions can fall into different categories. There are four main types of compulsions with some overlap between these categories.

  1. Avoidance

    1. Physical avoidance of any perceived feared object, event, or situation that involves their obsessions. (I.e. Avoid touching door handles at public places due to the perceived fear or increased risk of doing so.)

  2. Reassurance Seeking

    1. Seeking our an authority or trusted individual to give you a “go ahead” or give assurance that something is okay to do (i.e. checking with a parent or religious leader to make sure you did something right or that it was okay that you could do something.)

  3. Checking

    1. Revisiting areas in which you previously interacted or completed a task in order to “check” to make sure that you did it right and that it was locked or shut off. (I.e. Checking door lock or gas stoves multiple times to “make sure” you got them off”.)

  4. Researching

    1. Utilizing books, internet, or Google to be able to get the answer to any questions that you may have. Often referred to as Dr. Google for health related obsessions. These compulsions typically lead to further uncertainty. (I.e. checking google to get answers to questions regarding physical symptoms.)

We will continue to share more information and insights about OCD as #OCDAwareness Week continues, and hope that you have found this information enlightening so far. If you or yourself are struggling with OCD symptoms, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at or 405-513-0282.

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