Tuesday, October 11, 2011

OCD Awareness: {Statistics & Barriers to Treatment}

In yesterday's post, I introduced OCD and gave definitions of obsessions and compulsions. Today I would like to further explore what exactly OCD is and potential barriers to treatment. 

Surprisingly, many more people struggle with OCD then the average person might guess. According to the International OCD Foundation, "Our best estimates are that about 1 in 100 adults – or between 2 to 3 
million adults in the United States – currently have OCD. This is roughly the same number of people living in the city of Houston, Texas. There are also at least 1 in 200 – or 500,000 – kids and teens that have 
OCD. This is about the same number of kids who have diabetes." Were you aware that this disorder was as prevalent? Perhaps we aren't even aware of those in our life who do struggle. People with OCD can continue to be quite functional, and aren't always as severe as movies sometimes portray. Might there be people in your life who are currently struggling, and you are unaware? For a disorder this prevalent, why are we not discussing it more? Why are we not educating ourselves on the signs & symptoms, and developing ways that we can support those who struggle? 

There are many barriers to treatment which make it difficult for the individual to get the help that they need. Unfortunately, there is generally a huge gap between the first symptoms of the disorder and when the individual finally gets help. Here are a few of the barriers:
  • Education: As a young person first experiencing the signs of OCD, I may not even be aware of the fact that what I'm experiencing is actually a disorder. I may believe I'm just "weird" or "going crazy". As parents, educators, doctors, mental health professionals, or others who are regularly around children, teens, and young adults, we MUST be able to identify the signs & symptoms as well. 
  • Shame of the Individual: Especially with obsessions having to do with unwanted sexual thoughts or harm to those around, it might be humiliating for others to know what you are REALLY thinking. Fear of being labeled or made fun of, as well as a fear that you are "too crazy to be helped" can lead to a lack of getting help. 
  • Lack of Support From Family: Obviously there are some people who are terrified to be "labeled" or refuse to admit that their child may have a problem. A parent's lack of support in getting their child the help that they NEED can be a huge barrier to treatment as well. 
  • Affordable or Convenient Treatment: Sometimes life just seems too busy to take time to go to a counselor, or we don't have the money to afford a counselor. 
If you are one of the "1 in 100" with OCD, please know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE! There is a community of those struggling with this disorder, and a host of counselors ready and eager to help you on your journey! Unfortunately, OCD doesn't just "go away" when we ignore it, so the best thing to do is get the help that you need quickly and as soon as you see symptoms develop! 

Here's what you can do:
If you struggle with OCD, what's a barrier to getting the help you need?
If you don't have OCD, what sort of stigmatizing behavior might you engage in towards those struggling? What can you do to continue to increase your knowledge on this disorder? 

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