Saturday, January 9, 2010

Coping with OCD: Are anxiety-filled, obsessive rituals running your life?


I hate bathroom doors in public places that open inward. It means you have to touch the handle — that gross, probably germ-infested handle — on your way out. To combat this, I've developed a few tricks — using just the tip of one finger, slipping my hand inside my shirt sleeve or snagging a paper towel to do the dirty work. My little rituals extend to my work life. I simply refuse to write a sentence longer than 34 words, and there is no preposition I would dare end a sentence with. (Oh, crud!) In the face of such evidence, it would be easy to say that I have obsessive-compulsive disorder. And wrong.

With TV shows "Monk" and "Hoarders" and movies like "As Good As It Gets," OCD is as much a pop cultural phenomenon as it is a mental health disorder. Now, anyone who likes to keep things neat or has a garage clogged with junk is said to be OCD. People even self-diagnose: "I'm really OCD about [insert just about anything here]."

Often, "what they're saying is obsessive and compulsive are in fact personality traits," said Jeff Szymanski, executive director of the International OCD Foundation. "When someone says, 'I'm being compulsive,' they're saying, 'I'm detail-oriented. I persist in tasks.' "..." More


Find out what's normal and what's not. Keep in mind, this quiz is not intended to provide a diagnosis or take the place of a doctor consultation.

1. After shaking hands, you:

a) make an instant beeline for the bathroom, so you can wash your hands.
b) swab your hands with an alcohol wipe as soon as you can, then worry about the possible life-threatening germs still lingering on them until you can race to a sink.
c) think, Ewww, I hope she didn't have a cold, then wash your hands thoroughly the next time you go to the bathroom.

Scoring: a) 2 points; b) 3 points; c) 1 point