Now Boohoo are under fire for ‘Obsessive Compulsive Christmas’ PJs, but what are the signs of OCD?

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 mental health condition. 

But the fact is that having Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is not a joke. Not should it be used as an abbreviation to describe someone who really loves Christmas.

Just last week TK Maxx revealed they would be removing a range of Christmas-themed home goods from stories after upset customers accused the store of “mocking” mental disorders.

The products, a selection of cookie jars and plates, were emblazoned with the words: “I have OCD… Obsessive Christmas Disorder,” which many people felt trivialises the illness.

And now Boohoo has come under fire for their festive PJs which have a similar message.

The pyjama set, on sale for £17, have OCD written on the top with ‘obsessive Christmas disorder’ underneath.

And Twitter is not best pleased about them.

According to Metro, OCD-UK contacted Boohoo following the backlash and say they were advised the retailer would review whether or not to remove it from sale.

Yahoo UK also contacted Boohoo and a spokesperson responded: “We have spoken with the charity, OCD-UK, that first raised the issue of OCD misuse. It was never boohoo’s intention to cause offence. We are taking steps to educate the teams on this illness and raise awareness within the business to ensure that this does not happen again.”

To be fair to Boohoo and TK Maxx, it is likely neither meant to mock people who have a mental illness, but the move is symptomatic of how society views the condition.

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

But while Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (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.

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.

“Some compulsions are purely mental; for instance, an individual may pray to prevent harm to others, or count whilst carrying out a task to end on a specific number.

“Other common compulsions include seeking reassurance, hoarding and actively avoiding circumstances which may trigger an obsession,” she adds.

“Individuals often engage in such behaviours because they feel driven to do so in order to neutralise, counteract or dissipate their obsessions.”

Can different people have worse symptoms than others?

Symptoms vary considerably between individuals.

“For example, those with severe OCD may find their symptoms disabling, whereas those with mild OCD will not experience an impact on their lives to the same extent,” Abie explains.

“People who find their OCD to be relatively low may find that their symptoms improve without treatment, however, this is unlikely to occur in those with moderate to severe OCD.”

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.

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.

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