People with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) experience persistent or recurring thoughts that are disturbing and cause anxiety.
People with OCD may try to cope with these intrusive thoughts through compulsions. Compulsions are repetitive behaviors or mental acts that a person feels they must perform.
Some aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic may trigger anxiety and repetitive behaviors for people with OCD, such as frequent hand-washing and repeatedly checking the news.
OCD triggers during a pandemic
There are several aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic that might trigger OCD-related fears and behaviors. These triggers include:
- The advice to wash the hands more often
- The emphasis on proper hand-washing techniques
- The need to clean the hands every time a person returns home
- The advice to only leave the home for food and other necessities
These triggers may contribute to the following behaviors:
- Widespread panic-shopping, which could trigger hoarding
- Frequently reminding family members to wash their hands
- Searching for information about how long the virus stays active on certain surfaces
- Normalizing frequent washing and bathing
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