Coronavirus, Media

09 March, 2021

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in a Pandemic

Are the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown particularly difficult for people living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?

Our Medical Director, Professor Paul Fearon, joined presenter Sean Moncrieff on Newstalk FM to discuss the impact of preventative measures against COVID-19 - such as extra cleaning and physical distancing guidelines - on people living with OCD.

OCD has two sides: the obsessive side, or unwanted and distressing thoughts, and the compulsive side, which involves repeating mental or physical acts or rituals. People are aware these compulsions aren't normal, but find it very difficult or anxiety-inducing to resist them.

Professor Fearon explores how the coronavirus pandemic is creating a complex situation for people living with OCD. For example, on one hand, everyone's increased focus on cleanliness and handwashing may make the world feel a little safer and more normalised for the person if their OCD relates to germs and handwashing. At the same time, fear of germs or passing an infection on to others could make a person feel more worried or  isolated from friends, family and the world around them. Equally, the fact that everyone is being encouraged to follow hygiene guidelines more closely and actively can make it harder for people living with OCD to reduce problematic behaviours.

Hear more from Professor Fearon

Listen to the podcast below to hear more from Professor Fearon on the effects of the pandemic on people living with OCD, as well as how we can support people to deal with behaviours as we emerge from lockdown in the weeks and months ahead.

Click here to listen