Dealing with OCD during the coronavirus crisis
How do you deal with a pandemic if you have obsessive compulsive disorder? This doctor shares several ways to help reduce anxieties during the coronavirus pandemic.
Dr. Karen Cassiday, a psychologist at the Anxiety Treatment Center of Greater Chicago, tells Brut, “I think one of the things that's unique about the pandemic that we're experiencing is that we have instant access to all kinds of news and there's an awful lot of uncertainty. And we know that uncertainty or intolerance of uncertainty is really difficult for people with obsessive compulsive disorder to manage.”
Anxiety has intensified since the beginning of the pandemic
“One of the ways that we see people reacting with their anxiety is they try to get reassurance. And we get reassurance by searching for information, by trying to protect ourselves so we don't have to go out. And that's when toilet paper, paper towels, hand sanitizer and masks come in, is people falsely believe — If I could just stay in the safety of my home and have all these things so I don't have to go out, then I don't have to deal with it. I won't get sick.”, Dr. Cassiday explains. The anxiety levels have reached its highest peak since the initial AIDS outbreak, but Dr. Cassiday believes the public should have had more anxiety about SARS than now with coronavirus.
Cassiday categorizes different types of patients affected by the pandemic
The first category is germaphobe. Dr. Cassiday explains, “If you have OCD about germs, so you're a germaphobe, then this pandemic is really hard for you.” The next category is generalized anxiety disorder. “We see it for people who have what we call generalized anxiety disorder, where they worry just about getting sick or just bad things happening in the environment.”, she tells Brut. Then, finally, there is the scrupulosity category. “And then the other people that we see — OCD people who have scrupulosity and in particular, they have scrupulous concerns about not wanting to bring harm to others.”, she shares. But there are ways to reduce your OCD and anxiety Dr. Cassiday shares with Brut. Instead of focusing so intensely on the coronavirus crisis, people dealing with OCD and anxiety should focus on fewer sources of information, change their media diet, not compare themselves to others, and remember the whole situation is temporary.