Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder can affect grades, life in general


Jack Plewa, Editor-in-chief

A student is washing his hands. As he leaves the bathroom, his arms are swaying at his side and, his hand accidentally touches the wall. His heart rate elevates, he starts to hyperventilate. The student sprints back into the bathroom and fiercely rewashes his hands, causing him to be late for his next class.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, commonly known as OCD, is a mental disorder of the brain that is characterized by unreasonable thoughts and obsessions that lead to compulsive behaviors, according to Mayo Clinic. OCD can be centered on phobias as well, such as the fear of germs or the fear of disorder. OCD can affect people of all ages, but it typically takes full effect by the age of 6.
According to a recent Fielder survey of 119 students, roughly nine percent of students said they have OCD, five percent of whom have been diagnosed.
OCD can be diagnosed through physical examinations, lab tests, and psychological evaluations, according to mayoclinic.org.
Physical examinations include observing behaviors in people, such as their need to constantly keep themselves clean, and needing everything in a certain order. Other signs to watch for include counting, following the same daily routine, and needing clarifications or reassurances.
Maggie Hamby, sophomore, was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder by a therapist when she was four years old. She deals with OCD by taking medication in the form of pills because they “help supply the chemicals in the brain that are at an imbalance,” Hamby said.
Antidepressants are the most commonly used medications to help control obsession and compulsion. According to webmd.com, FDA-approved medications for OCD include Prozac, Zoloft, Luvox, and Paxil. As the case is with any disorder, patients must research medications before they decide which to use because a patient’s medical history and side effects of a medication can be a dangerous health risk.
OCD cannot be cured; however, there are ways to control it and minimize the amount of anxiety it creates in people’s daily lives. Methods of treatment include psychotherapy and medications. Traditional psychotherapy sessions typically just involve discussing the patient’s problems. A more proactive form of treatment for OCD is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), according to ocdla.com.
Hamby also used to have exposure therapy, similar to that of CBT treatment.
“If you’re fearing an object that’s ‘contaminated,’ in my case, I’d have to touch it with one finger,” Hamby said.
CBT treatments include both the patient and the therapist and are comprised of the patients creating a “detailed list of his or her symptoms,” and then exposing themselves to their fears to test whether they can withstand them.
According to mayoclinic.org, “You may try to ignore or stop your obsessions, but that only increases your distress and anxiety. Ultimately, you feel driven to perform compulsive acts to try to ease your stress.” Despite efforts to prevent OCD behaviors, it only leads to more obsessive behaviors.
Hamby said that OCD affects her daily life in and out of school, one such problem being fear of contamination.
“Sometimes I can’t go into certain rooms or touch certain things,” Hamby said.
Having OCD has also affected the way others view her.
“Some people treat me like I’m stupid, other people act concerned, [but] some treat me like I’m a normal person,” Hamby said.
OCD can be something minor and harmless, or it could be something that controls someone’s life, depending on the severity. Some people feel that it is a serious problem.
“I think OCD is a serious problem because people who live with it have a hard time not having a ritual,” Daniel Briseno, junior, said.
“It disrupts the lives of the person, and all those around them,” Jesse Sese, junior, said.
“Some people take it to the point where it controls their life,” Frank Kazmirzak, junior, said.
OCD not only affects people’s lives, but it can affect students’ learning and education.
“It’s a problem and it should be helped because if it’s severe it could interfere in learning,” David Dabkowski, freshman, said.
Students often can’t concentrate and focus in class due to distractions caused by OCD, according to ocdeducationstation.org. They can have high levels of anxiety because something is disorganized or disordered, causing them to not focus in class.
While some people think OCD is a serious problem, others feel that it isn’t something to worry about.
“I think it is normal, and it isn’t really a bad thing,” Julia Egly, freshman, said.
“I think it’s good when people want to get things done in a certain way,” Carla Montesa, senior, said.
Out of 119 students, only 11 said they have OCD, and 10% don’t know what OCD is. Of the 11 students who said they have OCD, only 6 have been diagnosed. 31% of students think that OCD is a serious problem, and only 33% think people should be tested for it.
Whether or not OCD is a serious problem, it can have a strong impact on people’s lives.