Anxiety Help Los Angeles County Mental Health Guide – Pasadena Weekendr

Individuals and families in Pasadena who may be suffering from mental illness or substance use, or anyone struggling with or in need of information about available mental health services in Pasadena, can click through a map on the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health website to find mental healthcare providers in the city and nearby locations.

At these centers, trained specialists can help people deal with anxiety and its effects and help find the right mental health care.

The map shows more than 30 mental healthcare providers in Pasadena, two in Altadena, and four in South Pasadena.

These centers are staffed by psychotherapists and psychologists, and are often able to expand services by supervising licensed and experienced professionals.

Psychologists offer a variety of services, including counseling, mental health education, psychotherapy, and behavioral counseling. They are also trained to treat anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other mental illnesses.

Those who may already have an anxiety diagnosis or who simply want to stop worrying or feeling anxious can avail of services at the Downtown Los Angeles Mental Health Center, at 529 Maple Ave. in Los Angeles, according to a Patch report.

Anxiety-related conditions can include generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic attacks, and depression.

Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States, affecting over 40 million adults each year.

Treatment of OCD patients can also be used in patients with health anxiety, as the disease is included in the group of OCD disorders, according to the American Psychiatric Association. It is a form of psychotherapy and focuses on the cognitive component of therapy, the purpose of which is to help you recognize and understand the false and disturbing beliefs that activate anxiety, the report said.

Your therapist may advise you to use Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to explore and focus on the areas of anxiety that fall under the umbrella of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety disorder, and depression.

In Pasadena, Sync Counseling Center, at 482 N. Rosemead Ave. Suite 207, provides you with a safe space to talk to a therapist and other mental health professionals, and explore your thoughts, feelings, and challenges. This will help you develop problem-solving skills to actively reduce your work stress.

Among people who are affected by an anxiety disorder, only about 37 percent receive medication for their symptoms, the Patch reports quotes an American Psychiatric Association statement. About half of all people diagnosed with anxiety disorders are also diagnosed with depression.

To manage anxiety, therapy, medication, or a combination of both can be particularly effective, the report added. Professional treatment for anxiety is one of the most useful things anyone can do, especially when dealing with other mental health problems such as depression, bipolar disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Without treatment, people with an anxiety disorder are often so preoccupied with anxiety that they are unable to fully exercise their personal, professional, and social lives.

Seeing a licensed therapist in Pasadena can help you find the best treatment for your specific symptoms. The first step is to make an appointment with a mental health specialist, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or chief psychiatrist.

To find a mental healthcare provider in Pasadena, visit www.locator.lacounty.gov/dmh and enter your address into the search box on the front page.

Camila Cabello gets candid about her mental health struggles: ‘I was embarrassed and ashamed’

Camila Cabello is getting candid about her struggles with mental health.

In an essay published in WSJ magazine Thursday, the singer, 23, discussed not wanting to come forward about her obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) symptoms. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, OCD is when someone “has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and/or behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over.”

“I didn’t want to tell you what was going on for the same reason a lot of us don’t want to talk about what it feels like to be at war in our minds and in our bodies. I was embarrassed and ashamed,” Cabello wrote. “That same little voice also told me maybe I was being ungrateful for all the good in my life – and that hiding the open wound I’d been avoiding the last few years was the easiest and fastest solution.” 

But, she said that was “not the truth.”

“There was something hurting inside me, and I didn’t have the skill to heal it or handle it. In order to heal it, I had to talk about it,” she said. “Denying my suffering and berating myself didn’t help things. I needed to say those three revolutionary words: ‘I need help.'”

What it’s like to have an anxiety disorder during the pandemic

Living through a global pandemic can spark anxiety in just about anyone. But for people who have an anxiety disorder, it can be crippling.

“It’s important to think about people with obsessive-compulsive disorder and other anxiety disorders because often our illnesses are invisible or not taken seriously,” Megan Williams, a rising senior at the University of Pittsburgh who has obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), tells Yahoo Life. 

Williams, who writes about mental health for The Pitt News, was sexually assaulted when she was 15, and developed OCD afterward. OCD is a mental health condition that happens when a person gets caught in a cycle of obsessions (unwanted and intrusive thoughts, images, or urges that trigger upsetting feelings) and compulsions (behaviors to try to relieve the stress), according to the International OCD Foundation.

Williams says her OCD is largely focused around safety—she will lock a door and have “crippling panic” that she didn’t “lock it enough” and will feel the need to check three times to make sure she turned off a gas burner. But Williams says her compulsions have changed slightly with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For over two months, I didn’t go anywhere,” she says. “I went home and washed my hands until they were cracked and bleeding. The feeling with OCD is that you are out of control, and you do your compulsions to regain that control, even if they are irrational.”

Williams says she’s also struggled with news reports interfering with her mental health. “It seems now that my compulsions aren’t obsessive, but that they’re logical,” she says. Case in point: She obsessively checked her feet for “coronavirus toes” after news broke that they can be a symptom of the virus. “I mean, you can’t look at feet longer than I looked at my own feet,” she says. “Check again, check again, because something can change.”

Williams says she’s especially nervous about states re-opening. “One of the No.1 things that’s frustrating about having OCD during coronavirus is I can’t control what other people do, no matter how much my OCD is screaming at me to control what other people do,” she says. 

Williams isn’t the only person struggling right now. There are several mental health disorders that fall under the category of anxiety disorders, including general anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder, and many are negatively impacted by the pandemic, psychologist Alicia Clark, author of Hack Your Anxiety, tells Yahoo Life. “This is common in the sense that the disorder has more to do with the process than with the content of the obsessions,” she says. “In a pandemic or any cultural situation like this, where there are directives for certain behaviors and a call to be extra vigilant, it can hit somebody with an anxiety disorder pretty hard.” 

Factors like unstructured time, stress of quarantining, having young children constantly at home, and self-isolation can all feed into the symptoms of anxiety disorders, says psychologist Lily Brown, director of research at the Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, tells Yahoo Life. “These are all huge risk factors for anxiety,” she says.  

What, exactly, that looks like, and the particular challenges people with an anxiety disorder can face vary. But, Brown says, there are certain issues that are unique to each disorder under the pandemic.

People who have been in treatment for contamination OCD (a common form of OCD in which a person has irrational fears or compulsions around hygiene) may have found that habits they once sought treatment for—compulsively wearing gloves, avoiding public bathrooms, using hand sanitizer all the time, and wearing masks in public—are now considered normal, Brown says. “Before the crisis, people with contamination-related OCD would engage in unnecessary decontamination processes,” she says. “Now, they’re being told they’re healthy. It can be confusing.” And, as is the case with Williams, people with other forms of OCD may suddenly find their obsessive habits and compulsions have changed to reflect what’s happening in the world.

A big challenge for people with contamination OCD will be to try to alleviate their obsessions and compulsions after the pandemic is over, Brown says. “For many of us who don’t have OCD, we’re going to go back to doing what we did before,” she says. “For someone with OCD, it’s going to be challenging to try return to the public’s definition of baseline.”

People who suffer from panic disorder, a condition marked by panic attacks, or sudden feelings of terror when there is no real danger, can struggle with the lack of activities available right now, psychologist John Mayer, author of Family Fit: Find Your Balance in Life, tells Yahoo Life. “People who suffer from panic disorder need to have a wide variety of diversions that take their minds away from ruminating about the pandemic, restrictions, and control it places on their lives,” he says. “Panic makes one feel closed-in with no way out. Diversity in diversions helps ease the closed-in feelings that make panic worse.” 

Patients with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), a condition that causes extreme feelings of worry or nervousness about everyday things, can find themselves struggling with procrastination right now, Brown says. “It seems counterintuitive—you might think someone who is anxious all the time would want to be productive all the time— tend to struggle with perfectionism and feel like the circumstances need to be just so,” Brown says. “That makes it hard to get started on whatever kind of project they might need to do.” With all of the unstructured time many people are facing, “it’s extraordinarily challenging for people with GAD to fight through it and do the basic things that need to be done,” Brown says. People with GAD are especially prone right now to “trick themselves into thinking they’re problem-solving when they’re actually just sitting and worrying,” Brown says.

Those who have social anxiety disorder, an intense, persistent fear of being watched and judged by others, may feel more comfortable than the general public with social distancing recommendations, Brown says. “They can feel like it’s somewhat of a gift for them,” she says. “The problem is, whenever things feel normal again, people with social anxiety disorder are going to experience a major uptick in distress.”

The fallout from all of this can be massive. “In regard to people with anxiety before the pandemic, their levels of anxiety have at a minimum doubled and, in many cases, this additional source of anxiety has resulted in them becoming disabled, and not being able to work, care for their children, or care for themselves,” Mayer says.

If you struggle with an anxiety disorder or notice your anxiety is interfering with your quality of life, Brown says it’s time to seek help. She recommends searching the Association for Cognitive and Behavioral Therapies’ therapist database to find a mental health professional near you. Keep in mind that you may not need to go anywhere to get help. “We’ve expanded a lot of telehealth options in ways we’ve never been able to before,” Brown says. “It’s possible to quickly and easily get help from home.”

To enhance the understanding around just how vast and prevalent mental illness is in the United States, we’ve created an augmented reality experience that uses color-coded sections to help visualize the lifetime prevalence for anxiety and mood disorders among adult Americans.

Place the image in front of you and walk around it to see the data sourced from the National Institute of Mental Health on adult Americans suffering from anxiety disorders, mood disorders and different parts of the mental health continuum.

For the latest coronavirus news and updates, follow along at https://news.yahoo.com/coronavirus. According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please reference the CDC’s and WHO’s resource guides. 

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How Camila Cabello Became Friends With Her Anxiety

In her own words, 23-year-old Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Camila Cabello talks about dealing with her internal struggles for Mental Health Month.

If you look at the pictures I’ve posted on Instagram over the last year, you’ll find pictures of me writing in the studio, pictures in a hallway in a bomb-dot-com outfit before going onstage to perform, pictures of me cuddled up with my dog, Eugene, on a couch, and pictures of me bursting with excitement to play you my music.

Coronavirus anxiety driving you to the brink? Listen to your friend with OCD

As a San Francisco teen who has suffered mightily from obsessive compulsive disorder, Kathryn Booth can tell you harrowing stories — including days when her need for academic perfection became so intense that she couldn’t finish writing the letters of her own name.

But when Booth looks back someday on her greatest struggles with OCD, the coronavirus era likely won’t even register. While stressing that the current pandemic has been a horrible time for the nation, she feels uniquely equipped to handle the emotional challenges we all face.

“To be honest, the coronavirus hasn’t really fazed me,” Booth says. The anxieties “a lot of people without the condition are experiencing for the first time, that’s something that I’ve been dealing with my whole life. … At this point, I’m just so used to it, that it feels like something I’ve been preparing for.”

Life for everyone in the Bay Area right now — with the intense handwashing, fear of leaving the home and fear of causing harm to others — resembles some of the classic OCD struggles. And indeed, OCD sufferers with contamination-related compulsions are facing heightened anxiety during the pandemic.

But many others are reporting that years of therapy have made them the calmest person in their household. And the sheltering has the potential for a big positive — a turning point for a disorder that has been marked by a lack of understanding in the media and popular culture.

Jeff Bell, a KCBS radio anchor and mental health awareness advocate who documented his own OCD struggle in the 2007 memoir “Rewind, Replay, Repeat,” said he’s already seeing signs of empathy from the public, who are getting a sample-size version of the trials of an OCD patient.

“A lot of people that I’m hearing from in the OCD community are hoping that this pandemic will prove to be a teachable moment, for lack of a better way of putting it,” Bell said. “In that I think the general public is sort of appreciating now what it’s like to live in exhausting fear and doubt and uncertainty.”

For decades, the OCD community has been facing a two-pronged fight: to effectively treat those who are afflicted, and to stamp out a pestilence of stereotypes surrounding the disorder.

Comedian Howie Mandel said in an interview about his OCD and the coronavirus: “I’ve been living with these fears from Day 1. I know you guys call it a pandemic, I call it, ‘Told you.’ ”

The term “OCD” is thrown around casually, as if it’s a quirk or even a positive trait. As a result, it’s sometimes harder for those in real need to get diagnosis and treatment.

Jeff Szymanski, executive director of the International Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Foundation, said having an obsession with a sports team or a compulsion for cleaning doesn’t place you among the estimated 1% of the population that struggles with a clinical OCD diagnosis.

“You can say you’re obsessive, you can say you’re compulsive, but ‘I’m so OCD’ is something we’re trying to get people away from,” Szymanski said. “The ‘D’ in OCD is a psychological disorder.”

High-profile OCD sufferers, including comedian Howie Mandel and “Mrs. Doubtfire” child actress Mara Wilson, have been outspoken about the disease in memoirs and with their large social media followings.

“I’ve been living with these fears from Day 1,” Mandel said in an April 13 interview with TMZ. “I know you guys call it a pandemic, I call it, ‘Told you.’”

But the coronavirus could bring a different opportunity. Szymanski said patients who don’t have germ-related fears that are greatly amplified by COVID-19, and have been through effective treatment, will have a well-honed ability to separate normal fears and irrational fear.

“We’re seeing a section of our community that was faring better than the average person,” Szymanski said. “They’re saying, ‘I’m actually doing better about COVID than my family members are.’”

While contamination OCD is the most common subtype of the disorder, there are may other varieties. Bell had a harm-to-others OCD; at his worst he missed deadlines and was unable to drive a car, because he couldn’t travel down a street without moving rocks and twigs that he thought could, through a chain of events, hurt a bystander.

Other subtypes include superstitions and faith-based disorders where religious customs are repeated to debilitating extremes.

Find out more

Learn about OCD definitions and treatment at the International OCD Foundation website: www.iocdf.org

Booth, 18, struggles with perfection-based OCD, which was diagnosed when she was 12, and reached a peak when she began high school. Booth recently wrote on her OCD advocacy Instagram page (@the_road_to_recovery_from_ocd) about a time at Disneyland when she found out she had scored less than 100% on a math test, and it turned the trip into one of the worst times of her life — glued to her phone in such a panic that her parents deleted the school app that connected to the grade book.

“When you think about Disneyland, the happiest place on Earth,” Booth said. “I was probably the most miserable I’ve ever been.”

She spent part of her first two years of high school in outpatient treatment, undergoing exposure and response prevention therapy, before she made breakthroughs that have kept her anxieties in check.

But she says there’s still a lot more to do for others. OCD has one of the highest treatment gaps — the percentage of people who suffer from a disease or disorder and don’t get treatment — in mental health care, measured at 90% in one 2011 Singapore study.

“I think that this is one of those times that empathy can really build that bridge, and create more awareness,” Booth said.

Bell said the lessons he’s learned, and advice he’s written in his books, is more useful than ever to people who don’t suffer from OCD, whether it’s compulsively checking the news for reassurance, or taking COVID-19 safety habits to unhealthy extremes.

“I’m seeing people without OCD take a lot of ‘quote unquote’ compulsive actions, and fall in those trapdoors,” Bell said. “I’ve seen people who don’t have OCD go far beyond what the CDC is guiding us to do.”

Booth, once unable to leave her room, sees a happy ending in all the gloom. While she’s missing her in-person high school graduation, she’s looking forward to starting at St. Mary’s College in the fall — meeting new friends, living in a new place and taking psychology classes in hope of someday working in the mental health field.

That life once seemed impossible to Booth; much more impossible than a return to a post-pandemic normal seems for the rest of us sheltering in place.

“I think this is one of those times that I’m really going to remember how far I’ve come,” Booth said. “A lot of times we don’t really see how far we’ve come because we are in the present moment.”

Peter Hartlaub is The San Francisco Chronicle’s pop culture critic. Email: phartlaub@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @PeterHartlaub

Can cannabinoids help with your anxiety? – Regina Leader

Article content

Anxiety, like marijuana, comes with a stigma, but with the increasing impact of anxiety disorders on family life and the economy, it’s no wonder everyone seems to be looking for a salve.

The relationship between cannabis and anxiety disorders exists, but seems to continue to be wholly misunderstood. Anxiety presents differently in every patient, and there is no definitive cure with conventional drugs, so just imagine something as variant as the cannabis plant.

Evidence suggests that cannabis has powerful anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) properties, and when administered as-needed, helps provide relief from several anxiety disorders, including generalized and social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and panic disorder, as well as depression. It might even help with a fear of public speaking.

More On This Topic

Mental Health Awareness: OCD and OCPD

The American Psychiatric Association describes Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder as “an anxiety disorder in which time people have recurring, unwanted thoughts, ideas or sensations (obsessions) that make them feel driven to do something repetitively (compulsions). The repetitive behaviors, such as hand washing, checking on things or cleaning, can significantly interfere with a person’s daily activities and social interactions.”

In the United States, about 1 in 40 adults and 1 in 100 children have OCD. And according to the World Health Organization, OCD is one of the top 20 causes of illness-related disability for individuals between 15 and 44 years of age worldwide.

The International OCD Foundation explains that “having OCD is not simply an overreaction to the stresses of life. While stressful situations can make things worse for people with OCD, they do not cause OCD. People with OCD face severe, often debilitating anxiety over any number of things, called “obsessions.” This level of extreme worry and fear can be so overwhelming that it gets in the way of their ability to function. To try to overcome this anxiety, people with OCD use “compulsions” or rituals, which are specific actions or behaviors. These compulsions are not activities a person with OCD does because they want to, but rather because they feel they have to in order to ease their fears. OCD is not about logic — it is about anxiety and trying to get relief from that anxiety.”

OCD is one of the most common mental illnesses that is frequently referred to in a casual, and incorrect, manner. People will refer to their “OCD” being “triggered” if a picture is crooked or their home isn’t to their standard of cleanliness.  This has diminished what those with OCD go through every day.

“Triggers related to cleanliness and symptoms related to washing make up only a small part of the range of OCD triggers and symptoms,” states the IOCDF. “People with OCD can have obsessions related to a wide variety of things, including losing control, hurting others, unwanted sexual thoughts, and many more. Similarly, the anxiety caused by these obsessions can be lessened by different compulsions, such as “checking” (e.g., re-checking door locks, repeatedly making sure the oven is off), “repeating” (e.g., doing the same action or ritual over and over to be sure it was done “correctly”), and “counting” (e.g., doing things in certain numbers, counting items to certain numbers).”

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) is a personality disorder defined by a strict adherence to control, order, perfectionism, and control over one’s environment. This often is at the expense of flexibility and openness to new experiences. Those with OCPD tend to impose the same standards on others. If these standards are not met they may become extremely angry, indignant, or depressed.

It can be difficult for a person with OCPD to express their feelings, for form meaningful relationships.  Those with OCPD may withdrawal from social settings and become isolated.

Some of OCPD symptoms are:

• Excessive devotion to work that impairs social and family activities
• Excessive fixation with lists, rules, and minor details
• Perfectionism that interferes with finishing tasks
• Rigid following of moral and ethical codes
• Unwillingness to assign tasks unless others perform exactly as asked
• Lack of generosity; extreme frugality without reason
• Hoarding behaviors
(Provided by IOCDF)

OCPD affects an estimated 1 in 100 people in the United States.

OCD vs. OCPD 

Despite having similar names, OCD and OCPD are two separate and distinct mental illnesses, each with their own specific symptoms and characteristics.  The main difference between the two is that OCD is designated in the DSM within its own category called Obsessive-Compulsive and related disorders, while OCPD is considered a personality disorder.

IOCDF lists these comparisons for OCD vs OCPD:

What is the difference between OCPD and OCD?
• People with OCD have insight, meaning they are aware that their unwanted thoughts are unreasonable. People with OCPD think their way is the “right and best way” and usually feel comfortable with such self-imposed systems of rules.

• The thoughts, behaviors and feared consequences common to OCD are typically not relevant to real-life concerns; people with OCPD are fixated with following procedures to manage daily tasks.

• Often OCD interferes in several areas in the person’s life including work, social, and/or family life. OCPD usually interferes with interpersonal relationships but makes work functioning more efficient. It is not the job itself that is hurt by OCPD traits, but the
relationships with co-workers, or even employers can be strained.

• Typically, people with OCPD don’t believe they require treatment. They believe that if
everyone else conformed to their strict rules, things would be fine! The threat of losing a job or a relationship due to interpersonal conflict may be the motivator for therapy. This is in contrast to people with OCD who feel tortured by their unwanted thoughts and rituals, and are more aware of the unreasonable demands that the symptoms place on others, often feeling guilty because of this.

• Family members of people with OCPD often feel extremely criticized and controlled by people with OCPD. Similar to living with someone with OCD, being ruled under OCPD demands can be very frustrating and upsetting, often leading to conflict.

Anxiety about food: Causes, disorders, and more

A person can experience fleeting food anxiety without having an underlying diagnosis. Some people may also use food as a way of coping with anxiety. For example, the findings of the American Psychological Association’s Stress in America survey suggested that 38% of U.S. adults had eaten too much or chosen unhealthful foods due to stress during the past month.

However, a person may have an underlying mental health condition if their anxiety about food:

  • undermines their relationships
  • interferes with their daily life
  • consumes their thoughts
  • causes them to make unhealthful choices consistently

Some potential diagnoses include:

Anorexia nervosa

People with anorexia perceive themselves as being overweight, even when they are very thin. This perception causes intense anxiety about food, causing a person to eat very few calories.

A person may also develop unusual rituals about food, engage in excessive exercise, or take laxatives to lose weight.

Anorexia can cause a person to become dangerously underweight, triggering heart and endocrine system problems, which can be lethal in some cases. Anorexia has the highest death rate of any eating disorder.

Bulimia nervosa

The hallmarks of bulimia are binge eating and purging. People may get rid of the excess food by vomiting, taking laxatives, or using enemas. Alternatively, they might compensate for binge eating by fasting or overexercising.

During a binge session, a person typically feels as though they have little or no control over their eating, leading them to eat much larger quantities of food than is healthy. They may do this in secret and then feel ashamed and embarrassed. This feeling means that they often attempt to prevent weight gain by purging.

Bulimia can cause severe health issues, such as electrolyte imbalances, tooth damage, and injuries to the esophagus (food pipe).

Learn more about the differences between bulimia and anorexia here.

Binge eating disorder

Binge eating disorder is similar to bulimia in that it causes a person to eat very large quantities of food. However, unlike bulimia, a person with binge eating disorder does not purge.

This condition may cause intense shame, and a person may obsess over their food intake. This obsession causes anxiety, which can lead to more binge eating.

This type of binge eating can cause substantial weight gain, as well as serious nutritional imbalances and illnesses, such as type 2 diabetes and hypertension.

Orthorexia

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) does not recognize orthorexia as a standalone eating disorder, but it includes it as a type of avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID). Many clinicians treat it as a separate condition, though.

Orthorexia causes a person to become preoccupied with healthful and “clean” eating. Their fixation goes well beyond a mere attentiveness to good health. Instead, a person assigns a moral quality to foods and fears eating anything unhealthful. This condition can cause dangerous nutritional imbalances and weight loss.

Some people with orthorexia embrace fad diets or get nutritional advice from social media or discredited diet plans.

Anxiety disorders

Generalized anxiety disorder causes a person to feel anxious in many situations where the anxiety is irrational. Some people channel that anxiety toward food. In severe cases, this can lead to eating disorders.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a type of anxiety, may also cause food anxiety. People with OCD have overwhelming anxious thoughts (obsessions), such as a fear of dying or losing someone they love.

People with OCD manage these thoughts with specific behaviors and rituals (compulsions) such as cleaning, eating only certain foods, or restricting the amount of food that they eat.

Other mental health conditions

Many people with eating disorders or food anxiety have other mental health conditions, such as depression, drug or alcohol use disorder, or schizophrenia. Some people with serious mental health conditions may use food as a way to regain a sense of control.

When a person has an eating disorder and another mental health condition, they will need treatment for both.

YouTuber Lele Pons Reveals OCD Diagnosis in New Documentary

YouTuber Lele Pons
YouTuber Lele Pons

What Happened: Venezuelan YouTuber Lele Pons revealed in the first episode of her docuseries, “The Secret Life of Lele Pons,” that she lives with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), Tourette syndrome and ADHD.

“When I was little I couldn’t move, I was stuck in one place. I couldn’t move and my dad had to carry me around places,” Pons said. “There’s thoughts and there’s actions. There are things that you don’t want to do, but your brain and your thoughts are telling you to do them.”

  • The impact of mental illness: Pons shared with Entertainment Tonight that she’s had to take weeks off from work at a time to manage her OCD symptoms when she gets triggered

  • Other celebrities with OCD: Pons isn’t the only celebrity to reveal their struggle with OCD. Others include Camila Cabello, John Green, Howie Mandel and Mara Wilson, among others.

Related:Download The Mighty app to connect in real time with people who can relate to what you’re going through.

The Frontlines: OCD is an anxiety disorder that causes intrusive thoughts (obsessions) that result in behaviors (compulsions) designed to reduce the discomfort of the unwanted thoughts. Compulsions can range from repetitive actions like checking locks, counting or repeated hand-washing, but there are many ways the condition can show up for people.

More about OCDSign up for our weekly mental health newsletter.

Inside Life With OCD: Take a peek inside what it’s like to live with OCD in this Mighty special. Click on the image below:

Related:Why This Type of OCD Might Be One Reason I Need to Pee Every Half Hour

A Mighty Voice: Our contributor, Mindy F., described what living with OCD is like for her:

If I could sum up what obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is for me, it would be control. Controlling the chaos in my brain, and my surroundings. A way to bring a sense of order to an otherwise chaotic world around me. It is a never-ending loop of intrusive thoughts, rituals and coping mechanisms. It’s perfectionism with a twist.

From Our Community: 

If you could let people know one thing about your OCD, what would it be?

Add your voice: Join The Mighty by downloading our app or comment below. You can submit your first person story, too.

Other things to know: For more on face masks, check out the following Mighty articles:

More helpful thinking: If you’re struggling with OCD, know you’re not alone and help is available. Working with a mental health professional can help. You can search for therapists in your area using this helpful tool.

Read more stories like this on The Mighty:

Why Discrimination Stopped Me From Providing OCD Peer Support

Why Logic Won’t Stop the ‘Weird’ Things I Do Because of My OCD

How a ‘Fluffy Catalyst’ Impacted My Daughter’s OCD

What Happened When I Told My Partner About My Relationship OCD

I Didn’t Expect This ‘Weird’ (Potential) Side Effect of My OCD Medication

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in a pandemic | MHT

Lockdown restrictions are beginning to ease but the threat of coronavirus lingers. Abi Crossland-Otter is a counsellor and writer who lives with Obessive Compulsive Disorder. Here she describes why renewed exposure to “the normal that was once just about doable” for the many who share her diagnosis is challenging but achievable. 

For some people living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic may not have provoked as much distress as you might assume. Personally, I have always felt the presence of germs, to a point where I can almost visualise their transference. As a consequence, I have always felt the need to carry out the meticulous hygiene measures that many people have now introduced into their lives. Whilst contamination fear is just one facet of OCD, in the context of COVID-19, this is where its power will be most prevalent.

  • Explore everything you need to know about OCD in Mental Health Today’s new OCD information hub

So, whilst my behaviours or ‘compulsions’ have not changed with the arrival of this pandemic, my thoughts or ‘obsessions’ have. My fears have become real, which makes challenging the impulses harder. Luckily, I have learnt how to control my OCD to a limit that does not interfere with my daily functioning. But for those who have not yet reached this point, or for those who are coming face-to-face with OCD for the first time, the consequences of COVID-19 can feel utterly debilitating.

Concerns (obsessions) may include:

• Contamination fears
• Fears of putting others at risk
• Health anxiety about being particularly vulnerable

Whilst it is likely that people without OCD may be having these same worries, the difference is how they are responded to. People with OCD may feel compelled to perform behaviours (compulsions) to ease these worries, and even then the sense of anxiety may be prolonged indeterminably.

Compulsions may include:

• Excessively washing hands
• Consistently checking up on and seeking reassurance from loved ones
• Frequently disinfecting things you come into contact with
• Hoarding or collecting things
• Repeating prayer-like sentiments
• Avoiding particular places or people
• Compulsively watching the news and seeking information

There are three categories of individuals to consider during a pandemic:

1. Those currently recovering or dealing with an OCD that may be exasperated by additional worries and unhelpful compulsions that are now being encouraged by public health guidelines.

2. Those who have previously suffered with OCD, but feel they have since got it under control, but now feel the presence of intrusive thoughts returning and find ignoring these thoughts more difficult than ever.

3. Those who may be having these disturbing and difficult thoughts for the first time and not knowing how best to respond.

In all three cases, there is the possibility that through self-isolation, individuals will have become desensitised to things that they were previously able to manage. Now, as the lockdown restrictions begin to ease but the threat of COVID-19 still lingers, exposing ourselves to what was once normal, or for some just about doable, may seem a real challenge.

At its root, OCD is a disorder of control. Whilst self-isolating at home in our own shielded cocoons, we are able to exert a degree of control over our environment. We can keep it clean, adapt it to suit our needs, and limit our triggers. In the public sphere however, this may not be possible.

With this in mind, creating a safe haven at home where OCD urges may be kept at bay or responded to with compulsions may actually have the reverse desired effect in making the inevitable transition into the outside world more challenging. With people who cannot work at home now being asked to go to work, it is likely that a lot of people are experiencing this struggle and coming to terms with what may at first feel like some scary and uncomfortable changes.

  • See also: What is OCD?
  • See also: Video insight: What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?
  • See also: What are the signs and symptoms of OCD?
  • See also: Treatment and support
  • See also: I need urgent help

Another difficulty for individuals with, or developing OCD is the tendency to self-diagnose and obsess over physical sensations in the body that may be normal, or not actually there at all. This can lead to panic over believing they have COVID-19.

Though such fear may attach itself to individuals as they begin to increase their contact with others over the coming months, the exhausting and paralysing effects can be eased with understanding and action.

Challenge your behaviours

As Ashley Fulwood, CEO of OCD-UK says, “instead of implementing excessive strategies to prevent contracting coronavirus, start implementing practical short and long-term strategies to challenge your OCD”. For example, instead of excessively washing your hands, set a goal where you do it for 20-seconds and not a second longer. Whilst trying to quell troubling thoughts and impulses by performing a compulsion may feel like the correct thing to do to seek comfort, responding in this way is likely to only provide brief relief, instead reinforcing and fuelling the unwanted thoughts. Instead, it may be helpful to try to challenge your behaviours by differentiating between helpful and unhelpful worries. Ask yourself, is this behaviour helping to reduce the potential spread of the virus, or am I just doing it to ease my anxious thoughts?

Psychiatry professor Dr Steven Taylor emphasises the importance of “clear communication from leaders” in reducing uncertainty and anxiety. Whilst this seemed to be lacking at first, we now have access to a number of detailed guides that outline how to return to work safely, travel safely and more (GOV.UK).

Above all, for people with OCD or those who feel at risk of developing it, it is crucial to take the journey back to normality slowly. Whilst you may feel a pressure to get back to work or spend more time out of the house, it is important to make your mental health a priority by gradually reintroducing things. For many, the changes to come will need to be handled delicately. Whilst humans are remarkably resilient beings, and we will come back from this, for some it may be more of a gentle stroll and testing of the waters than the simple act of ‘bouncing back’.