I’m A Celebrity star Rita Simons recently opened up about her battle with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – and her improvement from the condition.
During a conversation with Anne Hegerty during the show, Simons, who played Roxy Mitchell in EastEnders, discussed her experience with the mental health disorder and how it affects her life.
“I’m much better now. I’m not too bad with cleanliness and all of that,” she said of the common-yet-debilitating disorder. “I don’t do any of the rituals anymore.”
However, although improvement is possible, OCD symptoms can remain throughout one’s life.
What is OCD?
OCD is a “common, chronic, and long-lasting disorder” in which a person has “uncontrollable, recurring thoughts and behaviours” that they feel the urge to repeat over and over, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (HIMH).
The main characteristics of OCD are obsessions and compulsions – and some people can have both.
Obsessions are thoughts or urges that cause anxiety – and can be anything from a fear of germs to a need to have things in a perfect or symmetrical order.
Compulsions are repetitive behaviours that people suffering with OCD may feel obligated to do – such as cleaning excessively or repeatedly checking things, like a locked door.
The difference between regular urges or compulsions and obsessive-compulsive ones is that people with OCD may be unable to control their thoughts or behaviours.
According to the NIMH, people with OCD typically spend “at least one hour on these thoughts or behaviours” and do not get pleasure from performing the rituals – although they may feel slight relief from anxiety.
The disorder also affects overall quality of life – as those living with OCD often find themselves unable to participate in aspects of life such as work, school, and personal relationships.
Who develops OCD?
OCD can develop at any age, in men, women, and children, according to the NHS.
Although it occasionally develops around puberty, many people develop the disorder during early adulthood.
According to the NHS, a number of factors may result in a diagnosis of the condition, including family history, brain differences, life events, and personality.
Is there a cure for OCD?
While there is no cure for OCD, there are certain treatments that can be effective in improving the condition.
According to the NHS, those suffering with OCD should seek a psychological therapist, who can help a patient navigate the disorder through psychological therapy, a type of cognitive behaviour therapy that allows patients to face their fears and compulsions.
Medication is also a possible treatment for the disorder.
People with OCD are typically prescribed a type of antidepressant called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) that alter chemicals in the brain.
For Simons, the disorder has improved – however, she revealed that she used to a “real light switcher, tap checker” and would “spend hours” doing it.