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In 2014, one in five adults were estimated to have a diagnosable disorder. Today, one in two adults in the U.S. struggle with a mental illness. The CDC reported markedly elevated prevalence of adverse mental and behavioral health specifically in the month of June as the COVID-19 pandemic was continuing to gain momentum. The stigma centered around mental health is still an obstacle that mental health professionals and other advocates are working to overcome particularly in regard to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  We know that stigmatization of mental illness still exists because it takes the average person struggling with psychological wellbeing 10 years to seek therapeutic intervention. To put it this way, the Earth would orbit around the sun 10 times and 5,256,000 minutes would pass before someone who is struggling would receive help. There are so many misconceptions that come along with the term “mental illness” especially with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the mean onset of OCD is 19.5 years, and a quarter of cases begin after age 14 in the United States. Society continues to perpetuate the idea that if you are organized, a germaphobe, or enjoy following a routine that you are “OCD”. The issue with this is that people who are actually diagnosed with the disorder are minimized, and their illness is not taken seriously. To paint a clear picture of what Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is, the American Psychiatric Association classifies OCD as a disorder characterized by the presence obsessive and intrusive thoughts followed by compulsions that are performed to reduce anxiety (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 2013). Obsessions are intrusive, unwanted thoughts or images that are intensely distressing. Compulsions are the specific behavior the individual engages in to decrease the anxiety/distress from the obsession. OCD is the very cycle between these two factors that can not only make life difficult but debilitating. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is one of the most misunderstood psychiatric conditions because the exact causes of it are still unknown. It is scientifically valid within the psychiatric community to say that temperamental, environmental, and genetic components all interact with one another to form a psychological disorder. However, with OCD there is still uncertainty surrounding which risk factors lead to obsessions and compulsions. OCD in particular is associated with serotonin deficiencies. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain responsible for regulating primitive functions like body temperature, sleep, and mood. The distinguishing factor between what may seem like OCD tendencies and a valid psychiatric diagnosis is that it must consume at least 1 hour of time per day and significantly interfere with social and occupational areas of life. What is interesting about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is that it is considered to be a neurobiological disorder because of the unique areas of the brain that are hardwired to function in such a way. To be specific, the areas that are most dysfunctional are the orbitofrontal cortex, the anterior cingulate cortex, and the striatum all of which are important for modulating compulsions coming from the limbic system. OCD is a serious mental health condition that deserves to be taken more seriously than it is. 

For more information about OCD visit:

www.https://iocdf.org/about-ocd/

www.https://iocdf.org/about-ocd/

My name is Kayla Murphy and I was born and raised in Phoenix. I am currently a freshman studying Psychology with a minor in Behavioral Health Science. Apart from writing I love painting and reading books.
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