Lili Reinhart clarifies she has OCD, but what are the symptoms of the condition?

Many of us would likely admit to making a flippant quip about being ‘a little bit OCD’.

In fact the shortened term for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is bandied about so regularly in everyday chat that sometimes the fact that it is a real mental health disorder is completely overlooked.

Actor Lili Reinhart has been accused of doing just that.

Last week, the ‘Riverdale’ actress appeared on ‘The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon’ to discuss scenes from the film ‘Hustlers’, in which her character reacts to stress by vomiting.

“It was actually animal crackers and Sprite mixed together,” Lili said of the fake vomit used.

“I thought I was going to have a problem here because I have this really like, OCD thing with floaters in water and in drinks.

“Like if my drink has a little floater in it, I’m like, get it out. That’s when I want to throw up! So having a cup of something that basically looked like ‘floaters’ in water was like my worst nightmare.”

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After her interview, she faced some criticism, with some suggesting she was making light of the disorder.

However, Lili has set the record straight and revealed that she wasn’t joking and in fact she has been diagnosed with OCD.

“I just want to put out there re: my Fallon interview— I actually do suffer from OCD, it wasn’t just a little quip I made on a talk show,” she tweeted.

“I’ve had OCD since I was in elementary school. So, yes. I do have the right to talk about it. Thanks.”

Since clearing up the situation, a number of fans have praised the 23-year-old for helping to throw light on the condition. 

Most of us would admit to occasionally dropping a light-hearted reference about being a little OCD, even if we don’t actually suffer from the condition, so it’s understandable people initially mistook Lili’s statement as something similar.

While most quips likely aren’t intended to mock people who have a mental illness, they are symptomatic of how society views the condition.

But while OCD is something that many of us are aware of, what is not widely known is just how vast OCD can be and the full effect it can have on someone’s life.

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According to the mental health charity Mind, OCD affects an estimated 1.2 per cent of the population in the UK.

Having OCD isn't something we should joke about [Photo: Getty]Having OCD isn't something we should joke about [Photo: Getty]

What is OCD?

“Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety-related mental health condition which, when severe, can be disabling,” explains Abie Taylor-Spencer, TMS Technician at mental health clinic Smart TMS.

“OCD affects men and women equally and although it typically tends to occur during late adolescence or early adulthood, it can begin at any age.”

What are the main symptoms of OCD?

According to Abie Taylor-Spencer the main symptoms of OCD can be categorised into two significant areas; obsessions and compulsions.

Obsessions: “These are uncontrollable thoughts, images, worries or urges which someone experiences recurrently and can trigger intense distress,” she says.

“The intrusive thoughts can be difficult to ignore and occur frequently, causing extreme anxiety and preoccupation which prevents the individual from regular day to day functioning.

Abie says that common obsessions in OCD include; causing or failing to prevent harm, perfectionism, scrupulosity (concern with religious issues such as morality and blasphemy) and the fear of contamination and illness.

Compulsions: “The compulsions are repetitive and time-consuming behaviours which an individual performs in an attempt to relieve the anxiety caused by the obsessive thoughts,” she explains.

“These can be physical actions or rituals, such as washing or cleaning excessively, arranging things in a specific way, checking that appliances are turned off and that doors are locked.

Abie says that many compulsions involve numbers; for example, compulsions may involve activities (such as turning on a light switch) having to be repeated a specific number of times without the ritual being interrupted.

What are the causes of OCD?

According to Abie there are different factors which may contribute to the development of OCD.

“The condition may be triggered by a combination of genetic, neurological, behavioural, cognitive, and environmental factors,” she explains.

“Imbalances in neurotransmitters such as serotonin and glutate have been recognised as potential factors in the development of this disorder.”

And having relatives with OCD can significantly increase the likelihood of an individual developing OCD.

OCD misconceptions

According to Dr Dimitrios Paschos, Consultant Psychiatrist at Re:Cognition Health Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can manifest in a myriad of different ways, affecting each individual differently.

“One of the biggest misconceptions is that people with OCD like having everything ordered, keeping things organised and neat and tidy,” he explains.

“Another misconception is that they like washing their hands constantly, keeping themselves clean and germ-free; they do it because they enjoy it.

“OCD is much more than keeping things organised, clean and germ free and it is certainly not an enjoyable experience for the individual. In fact, it is a serious mental health condition that presents with high, often crippling levels of anxiety and distress.

 “People with OCD have compulsions to perform particular rituals in order to appease anxiety that builds up, which can be deliberating. The most common OCD compulsions include counting, repetitive movements, ordering things in a particular manner, hoarding (newspapers, magazines) excessive cleaning, handwashing and touching objects. 

“OCD is a medical condition; it’s not just eccentric or quirky behaviour and it requires medical treatment,” he adds.

READ MORE: Having OCD is not a joke and it’s time we stopped treating it as such

What are the treatment options for OCD?

There are currently a few different treatment options that are available for people who are suffering from OCD.

  • Psychological treatments which include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and exposure and response prevention (ERP). This involves exposure to the unwanted thought or situation to achieve habituation, which is where the compulsive response can be prevented over time.

  • Medications are available to treat OCD, which are typically used when an individual does not respond to psychological treatment. Commonly, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as citalopram and sertraline are used to alter the balance of chemicals in the brain. A tricyclic antidepressant such as clomipramine may be prescribed. But around 40% of individuals with OCD do not respond to medication.

  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) can also be used to treat OCD. Research has found that OCD is linked to increased activity in the supplementary motor area (SMA), and reducing activity in this area can lead to improvement in OCD symptoms.