What Is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder? Camila Cabello Talks Living With Condition

Singer Camila Cabello opened up Monday about how she’s managed to live life with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

“OCD is weird. I laugh about it now,” Cabello, 21, exclusively told Cosmopolitan UK.  “Everybody has different ways of handling stress. For me, if I get really stressed thinking about something, I’ll start to have the same thought over and over again, and no matter how many times I get to the resolution, I feel like something bad is about to happen if I don’t keep thinking about it.”

OCD is an anxiety disorder that causes sufferers to experience excessive thoughts (obsessions), which lead the person to engage in repetitive behaviors (compulsions). It affects 2.2 million adults—or one percent—of the U.S. population, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA). On average, an individual will first experience OCD symptoms at 19, but nearly 25 percent of sufferers first encounter the disorder at 14. 

“What’s really important for people with OCD is that they know that they have an illness and the thoughts that they’re having are not their own wishes,” Helen Blair Simpson, M.D., Ph.D. and vice chair for research and professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, told Newsweek. “OCD has many different flavors…and there are different treatments.”


“One way you handle it is by knowing and being able to name it when you have the OCD thought or you have the OCD behavior. You’re able to say, ‘That’s my OCD talking,'” Simpson added.

The International OCD Foundation said affected individuals encounter excessive thoughts over contamination, perfectionism, harm, sex, religion and loss of control, among other areas. Famed aviator Howard Hughes battled a phobia of germs that progressed throughout his life, for instance. Hughes subsequently acquired obsessive-compulsive symptoms to prevent him from encountering germs, including requiring his staffers to wash their hands several times and cover them before serving him meals, according to the American Psychological Association (APA).    

OCD is a treatable and manageable condition. Patients with the disorder can use medication, therapy or a combination of both remedies, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

“OCD is one of those illnesses where if you’re alone [and] you’re not talking to people, it’ll just fill the space,” Simpson told Newsweek. “Having a social network and people around you to help you is also really important…People who love what they do and get focused on what they’re doing, they [patients] tell me that’s when they can push the OCD away the easiest.”

While Cabello didn’t reveal her treatment process, the singer says she’s doing “much better.”

“I feel so much more in control of it now,” Cabello told Cosmopolitan UK. “To the point where I’m just like, ‘Aha! OK, this is just my OCD.’ I’ll ask my mom a question for the fourth time, and she’ll be like, ‘That’s OCD. You’ve got to let it go.'”

Since leaving Fifth Harmony in December 2016, Cabello has achieved major success with Camila, her debut solo album. After its January release, Camila topped the iTunes albums charts in more than 100 countries. The critically acclaimed album also debuted number one on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums list.

Cabello is set to join singer Charli XCX in opening up for Taylor Swift on her forthcoming Reputation Stadium Tour May 8.

“It’s a dream come true. When I first met her four years ago, I was like, ‘I really love you,'” Cabello told Entertainment Tonight in March. “I was like, ‘Man, I really look up to you. You really inspire me.’ She was one of the people that made me wanna start songwriting, so it’s really amazing.”

Camila cabello Singer Camila Cabello opened up about battle with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Here, Cabello is pictured performing on stage during her “Never Be the Same Tour” at Orpheum on April 9 in Vancouver, Canada. Andrew Chin/Getty Images

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