Compulsions During Pandemic


SAN ANTONIO, Texas. (Ivanhoe Newswire)— About one in 50 people suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD, repeatedly washing their hands or worrying that they’ve touched something or someone they shouldn’t have. It’s behavior that may be exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. Now, clinical trials are looking at new treatments and therapies to bring these deep-seated compulsions under control. Compulsions During Pandemic

Obsessively checking things, hoarding items, extreme fear of germs … symptoms of OCD. OCD sufferers want to stop, but find it difficult, if not impossible to do so.

“For many folks, that level of distress is so intense that it motivates them to engage in these onerous behaviors, whether it be more ritualistic or avoidance to prevent that feared outcome from taking place. The problem with any sort of ritual, is that it’s temporary. It just doesn’t tend to stick for a while,” explained Eric Storch, PhD of the Baylor College of Medicine.

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OCD therapies currently under study or clinical trials include deep brain stimulation to implant electrodes, anti-depressants known as serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and glutamate in the brain, which is a neurotransmitter that sends signals to other cells.

“The best treatment for anxiety disorders are therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy or desensitization therapy,” added psychiatrist Harry A. Croft, MD.

And, although COVID-19 has impacted some individuals with OCD, mental health experts say it’s useful for others to understand what it’s like to live under that cloak of anxiety … not just during a pandemic, but all of the time.

The Centers for Disease Control has recommended that healthcare providers continue to serve patients with OCD during the pandemic by implementing telehealth appointments and services where possible. More COVID-19 resources are available on the website for the international OCD foundation at

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Executive Producer; Donna Parker, Field Producer; Bruce Maniscalco, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE DISORDER (OCD): OCD is an anxiety disorder where people have recurring, unwanted thoughts, ideas or sensations that make them feel driven to do something repetitively. The repetitive behaviors, such as hand washing, checking on things or cleaning, can significantly interfere with a person’s daily activities and social interactions. Many people have focused thoughts or repeated behaviors, but these do not disrupt daily life and may add structure or make tasks easier. For people with OCD, the thoughts are persistent and unwanted routines and behaviors are rigid and not doing them causes great distress. Many people with OCD know or suspect their obsessions are not true; others may think they could be true. Even if they know their obsessions are not true, people with OCD have a hard time keeping their focus off the obsessions or stopping the compulsive actions.


TREATMENTS FOR OCD: There are ways to manage OCD including learning good coping strategies for dealing with stress like getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising, meditation, and sticking with your treatment plan. Like stress, OCD and excessive worry often go hand in hand. This worry can focus on the theme of your obsessions, the consequences of your illness or it can relate to everyday matters such as paying bills or performing well at work. Unfortunately, worrying can often consume quite a bit of energy and make it difficult to relax. Learning techniques for coping with worry, such as analyzing the probability of what you are worried about happening and deciding how to cope with the worst-case scenario should it happen, is a valuable self-help strategy. Given that stress and worry are major triggers of OCD symptoms, one of the best ways to boost your OCD self-help skills is to learn and practice a few relaxation techniques. There is growing evidence that exercise such as running may be an important OCD self-help strategy for reducing the frequency and intensity of OCD symptoms. Practice being mindful of distressing or disturbing thoughts. It may act as a form of exposure to feared obsessions, like a person who is afraid of dogs spending time with a dog to lessen the fear. Many people with anxiety disorders such as OCD have tried alternative therapies at one time or another. Also try exploring alternative therapies. One of the most popular herbal remedies for anxiety is St. John’s Wort, although the evidence is mixed as to whether it is effective.


HOW TO DEAL WITH OCD DURING THE CORONAVIRUS: Many who are diagnosed with OCD live in fear of being contaminated by germs and for their overall health on a regular basis. This fear and anxiety can be heightened during a global pandemic like COVID-19. Here are some tips for dealing with OCD during this time. Engage in telepsychiatry/telepsychology visits, think about utilizing online resources, follow your routine and engage in appropriate self-care, find things to be optimistic about, focus on the fact that there will be a bright light at the end of the tunnel and enjoy the small things.






If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at

Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Eric Storch, PhD, Vice Chair Department of Psychiatry

Read the entire Q&A