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Obsessive compulsive cleaning

For many the point is that they keep washing and scrubbing until they feel something is clean. Ordinary people will do so until they see something as being clean. The amount of time and effort people put into feeling clean can be overwhelming.

Howard Hughes is far from the only famous person to fall under one of these categories. Cameron Diaz Hollywood actress has claimed that she has ended up trapped in rooms before because she has such a phobia of touching doorknobs. Apparently she cleans the handles in her LA home so often she has removed all the paint and varnish from them. Maybe it is a Hollywood thing, Jennifer Aniston reportedly has a guest toilet that she never uses, and her own toilet that no one else ever uses.

Presidential candidate Donald Trump is another self diagnosed sufferer. The New Yorker has called hand shaking “one of the curses of American society.” He is also on the record claiming: “I feel much better after I thoroughly wash my hands, which I do as much as possible.” He refuses to ever shake hands with teachers because their desks are germ ridden and they spend so much time with young children.

Obviously a condition like this can have an incredible impact upon offices and workforces. Indeed ocdaction.org has an entire guide called “Employing people with OCD in England & Wales.” It advises employers to be aware of their duties regarding confidentiality and being prepared for sickness absences. It also gives an outline of the 2010 Equality Act which “brought together 116 separate pieces of anti-discrimination legislation into one single act which provides a legal framework to protect the rights of individuals and advance equality of opportunity for all.

“Under the Act a person is disabled if they have a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities e.g. using a telephone, reading a book or using public transport etc. The Equality Act 2010 Guidance on the definition of disability produced by the Office for Disability Issues (ODI) includes OCD in its list of examples of mental impairment.”

Generally speaking employers are not allowed to ask job candidates about their health until after they have made an actual job offer. The exception is where “reasonable” adjustments may be required to allow the candidate to perform their duties. The Act states that: “Disabled people are not under a legal obligation to disclose their disability or long-term health condition to you before or during their employment but if they choose not to then this may affect their ability to assert their legal rights.”

As with other mental illnesses like depression, anxiety and bi-polar disorder there is no definitive cure for OCD. The two main treatments according to the NHS are medication which doesn’t cure the illness but will control your symptoms by altering the balance of chemicals in your brain.

The other option is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) which is a type of therapy that “encourages you to face your fear and let the obsessive thoughts occur without “putting them right” or “neutralising” them with compulsions.”

ocduk.org claims that CBT is the more effective option:

“The treatment found to be the most effective in successfully treating OCD is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). In many cases, CBT alone is highly effective in treating OCD, but for some people a combination of CBT and medication is also effective. Medication may reduce the anxiety enough for a person to start, and eventually succeed in therapy.

“However what we know is that left unchecked and untreated OCD will mushroom and feed upon itself and can have the power to consume if left unchallenged. It is therefore important to seek professional medical advice and support the moment someone recognises OCD type symptoms.

“Just as a person with some types of diabetes can learn to manage the disease by changing their diet and exercise habits, a person with OCD can learn to manage symptoms so they don’t interfere with daily functioning and allow them to regain a much improved quality of life. For some people it is even possible to achieve complete recovery from OCD.”

About Sarah OBeirne

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