By Alice Liana Galli
The ongoing pandemic of Covid-19 can be a reason for great concern for many people and its effect can have a huge impact on mental health, especially now that restricting measures have been put in place all over Scotland. However, some individuals might be more prepared to cope with the emergency than others.
According to the licensed psychologist, specialised in the cognitive behavioural treatment of OCD, Fred Penzel, people suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder have a life-time experience training that teaches them how to overcome their worst fears, including the one of contagion.
But what do we really mean when we are talking of OCD?
The Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a chronic neurobiological brain disorder, that involves intrusive negative and doubtful thoughts which focus on the idea of harming the person itself or causing harm to other people either on propose or negligently. Those thoughts evolve in compulsions that are actions whose aim is to relieve the anxiety caused by the obsession.
According to Dr. Penzel, the rage of compulsion is pretty much unlimited, their only limit it’s human imagination. They usually include repetitions of numbers and names, checking, washing and cleaning or even praying.
The range of those compulsion is pretty much unlimited, their only limit it’s human imagination. Dr. Fred Penzel
After the decision of Scottish Government of locking down the country to prevent the spread of the disease, the lives of thousands of Scottish people are about to go under a significant amount of changes. However, some OCD sufferers aren’t showing particular concern for those measures. This is the case of a germaphobic OCD patient who works in health care and are used to wash their hands multiple times a day to cope with their anxiety and declared that Coronavirus haven’t changed their lifestyle in a significant way.
Although Scottish people from today are officially asked to leave their homes just for :
- Essential shopping
- Medical reasons
- Travel to and from essential work
OCD sufferers are already used to self-isolation. According to Dr. Penzel, social stigma pushes these individuals to hide their condition at the eyes of friends, colleagues and relatives and for that reason they are more likely to isolate from their community anyway.
Despite the reassuring results of Dr. Penzel and of many other members of the International OCD Foundation, psychologist all over the world are still trying to make their minds on the impact of Covid-19 on OCD patients’ metal health.
This is the case of Dr. Dr Andrew Iles, consultant psychiatrist and expert on OCD at the Priory Group who, speaking to BBC News a few days ago, shared a totally different point of view on the issue, saying that for people with OCD this situation can be “really, really alarming”.
Dr. Iles prospective is also supported by the testimonies of patients that have failed in following their treatment because of Coronavirus. An example of regression in their OCD condition, comes from a patience that used to shower with bleach and made huge efforts to overcome their compulsion but with the lack of supplies of disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer went back using bleach cleaner.
The ongoing crisis might have sever results on people mental health but Dr. Penzel is faithful that OCD patients are clever enough to see that what they are doing is not average and the worldwide spreading of a virus has to be considered as an exceptional circumstance and that they can find the strength inside themselves to face the delicate situation as much as everyone else.