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. However, having Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is not a joke. And now an online retailer has been slammed for using the term to describe someone who really loves Christmas.
Boohoo.com has come under fire for its festive PJs, which have OCD written on the top, and “obsessive Christmas disorder” underneath. And Twitter is not best pleased about them.
Hey @boohoo, what’s with these pyjamas? OCD is a real, valid mental illness, that effects and can destroy lives. Its not something to make jokes about. I know for a fact that there would not be pyjamas with jokes about depression, bipolar disorder, anorexia etc. #OCDUK @OCDUK pic.twitter.com/aW0R1UJxUi
— Eleanorb (@BetsyEllie) November 29, 2018
Uh @boohoo why do you think it’s acceptable to trivialise mental illness like this? 🤔 OCD isn’t fun or something to make a joke from, it’s serious and can be very debilitating 🙄 #lostmycustom #MentalHealthMatters pic.twitter.com/HqPs4yeulC
— Keyworth (@keyl0rd) November 30, 2018
OCD-UK contacted Boohoo after the backlash and say it was advised that the retailer would review whether or not to remove it from sale, according to Metro UK. A spokesperson for the company said it was never the retailer’s “intention to cause offense”.
“We have spoken with the charity, OCD-UK, that first raised the issue of OCD misuse. It was never Boohoo’s intention to cause offense,” the spokesperson told Yahoo UK. “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.”
Just last week, TK Maxx revealed that it would be removing a range of Christmas-themed home goods from stores after customers accused the store of “mocking” mental disorders.
The products, including a selection of cookie jars and plates, were emblazoned with the words: “I have OCD … Obsessive Christmas Disorder,” which many people felt trivializes the illness. To be fair to Boohoo and TK Maxx, it is likely that neither meant to mock people who have a mental illness, but their choice to sell such products is symptomatic of how dismissively society views the condition.
According to BeyondOCD.org, OCD affects one in 40 people in the United States. But while they may be aware of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), many people do not know what a serious 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 the 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 Taylor-Spencer, the main symptoms of OCD can be categorized into two significant areas: obsessions and compulsions. “[Obsessions] 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.”
Taylor-Spencer 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.
“The compulsions are repetitive and time-consuming behaviors 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.”
Taylor-Spencer says that many compulsions involve numbers; for example, compulsions may involve activities (such as turning on a light switch) that must 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 behaviors because they feel driven to do so in order to neutralize, 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,” Taylor-Spencer 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 Taylor-Spencer, different factors contribute to the development of OCD. “The condition may be triggered by a combination of genetic, neurological, behavioral, cognitive, and environmental factors,” she explains. “Imbalances in neurotransmitters such as serotonin and glutate have been recognized as potential factors in the development of this disorder.”
And having relatives with OCD can significantly increase the likelihood of an individual developing OCD. If you need help: a series of guides published by Beyond OCD offer further information.
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