Gender Dysphoria Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Identity as Fear and Perpetual Uncertainty: Transgender OCD

Children ranging from newborns to eleven-year-olds can view their surroundings in a neutral state of mind. Meaning, children have not yet pre-conditioned their minds to follow ideologies of pop culture. This gift of having a neutral state of mind allows kids to figure out what they like and dislike without any external influenced ideas. This may be about their favorite ice cream flavor, favorite color, or even what gender they are attracted to. As children grow up, they begin to identify more identities like gender. A person’s gender identity may change over time, but eventually, humans can figure out who they are. However, there is a condition called Transgender OCD (TOCD), in which someone becomes confused with their gender identity. 

OCD patients suffer from intrusive thoughts, which causes a great deal of anxiety and stress. To deal with high levels of anxiety and stress, OCD patients develop physical rituals to ease their anxiety. OCD can target any aspect of a person. In the case of TOCD, the patients have intrusive thoughts about gender, which causes anxiety and stress. According to Nathen Peterson, an OCD specialist, “Transgender is a word used to describe people whose gender identity differs from the gender they were thought to be when they were born.” TOCD may begin with a random thought like what would it be like to be a female or male? TOCD can also be caused by external forces. For instance, if someone views a video of someone coming out about their identity, someone may question their own identity. A person’s reaction to thoughts of being a different gender is what determines if they have TOCD. 

There are three common obsessions found amongst TOCD patients. The most obvious compulsion is their fear of being another gender. The second point is that people who suffer from TOCD don’t want others to find out about their thoughts. They are afraid of what others might say, so patients become antisocial, avoiding interactions by not dating, not attending social gatherings, nor talking to others. The third obsession found is that victims force themselves to believe what their brain is telling them. The orbital-frontal cortex (OFC), thalamus, and caudate nucleus are parts of the brain that are responsible for TOCD. Normally, the OFC sends a signal to the thalamus when the brain senses that the human body is in danger. The thalamus then takes the signal and acts as a pathway by sending strong signals to different parts of the brain to solve the problem. Usually, the caudate nucleus suppresses these signals so the body will not be overwhelmed by these signals (BBC, 2014). Unfortunately, for some people, the caudate nucleus is damaged and unable to suppress the signals. This leads to an overdrive of intrusive intensive thoughts, which may contribute to TOCD. Overwhelmed by these thoughts, these people may begin to believe the signals sent by the brain, even if they are frightened at the thought of being a different gender. 

Bentley Aquataa, a transgender OCD sufferer, shares some compulsions and symptoms that he faces on YouTube. Aquataa is hyper-aware of his body when out in public in fear that he may develop dysphoria. Dysphoria is a term that describes a sense of unease that a person may have because of a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity (NHS, 2020). Aquataa frequently searches for stories of trans coming out/detrans/TOCD/OCD stories. He takes online quizzes like “Do I have gender dysphoria?” constantly, taking them again and again in fear that he may have lied to himself with slightly different answers. He suffers from uneasy chest feelings, and checks the mirror often. He imagines himself as the opposite gender, questions if his OCD is real, and googles every little symptom. Aquatta is trying his best to live with his condition and is currently seeing a therapist to help him in his journey towards recovery.

Thankfully, there are treatments available for TOCD patients. Prescription medications specifically use different antidepressants like clomipramine, fluoxetine, and fluvoxamine to treat OCD. Antidepressant medications help OCD patients avoid intrusive thoughts. Therapists also recommend treatment exposure response prevention where patients are taught not to respond to their intrusive thoughts. Transgender OCD is a serious condition, and people should be mindful that their true selves is who they’ve always been. A random thought that appeared out of the blue does not define who they are. 



BBC, (2014, September 17). Science & Nature – Human Body and Mind – Root of obsession. Retrieved November 15, 2020, from

NHS, (2020, May 28). Gender dysphoria. Retrieved November 15, 2020, from

Petterson, N. (Director). (2020, September 28). Fear of being Transgender OCD (TOCD) [Video file]. Retrieved November 7, 2020, from

Addiction Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

OCD and Addiction: How Do These Relate?

A large number of people who suffer from OCD also find themselves suffering from substance addiction. This can come as a surprise because most people may not relate one form of mental illness with another. However, one mental illness can indeed coexist with other mental illnesses. 

OCD and addiction are similar forms of mental illnesses; they share common symptoms and behaviors. Addiction is the compulsive use of substances, where a person is not able to control their intake. Addiction causes people to continue seeking a substance regardless of the effects it has on their lives. OCD is similar in that people go through compulsive behaviors to help lower anxiety or stress from mentally exhausting obsessive thoughts. According to Dr. Jan Weiner, a licensed Clinical Psychologist from New York City, there are two ways addiction and OCD are related. First, in both mental illnesses, the patient is trying to mitigate some form of emotional pain or anxiety, whether that is through the use of a substance or compulsive behavior. Second, both mental illnesses cause a patient to keep their condition a secret, which may be due to the negative stigma behind addiction and OCD in modern-day society. 

OCD patients are vulnerable to falling prey to addiction because they are in a negative state of mind due to exhausting recurring thoughts. Simple behaviors like having a cup of wine to ease thoughts can, over time, lead to dependency on the substance. Signs of addiction include having withdrawals, panic attacks, and using more and more substances without control. OCD patients can take prescription drugs to lower the volume of their thoughts. Some drugs psychologists prescribe to OCD patients are fluvoxamine, paroxetine, fluoxetine, sertraline, and clomipramine (Juergens, 2020). These medications are effective in treating compulsive thoughts. For instance, the drugs help stop patients from having compulsive thoughts for long periods. However, even though these drugs are effective, they are not instantaneous. There are other forms of medication such as benzodiazepine, klonopin, ativan, and xanax, which give instant relief to patients who suffer from obsessive thoughts. Even though these drugs are instantaneous, they wear off within a few hours. Patients need to consume more instant acting drugs daily to help them relieve their obsessive thoughts. Taking these medications often creates both a dependency and higher tolerance, leading to addiction. 

When treating those with OCD, psychologists prescribe therapy like exposure response therapy, which encourages patients to face their fears.Treating patients with OCD and addiction requires a different approach from treating a person only diagnosed with OCD. With OCD patients who suffer from addiction, the addiction needs to be treated first. Patients must be isolated from their addiction before they can be treated. It is not impossible to have more than one mental illness, and solving each and every one effectively can open the door to better treatment.



Juergens, J. (2020, September 18). Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Addiction. Retrieved October 24, 2020, from

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

When Parenthood Becomes Distraught: Maternal OCD

A pregnancy is an exciting new chapter in life. Parents begin to decide on a name, plan a baby shower, and think about the future in store. It seems as if everything is perfect. Parents may feel like they are on cloud nine, waiting patiently until the baby is born. However, the perfect fantasy described is not always a reality. According to Baby Buddy, an evidence-based and National Health Service approved pregnancy tool, “Two out of 10 women experience mental health problems during or after pregnancy.” One example of a mental health problem women face is maternal obsessive compulsive disorder. 

Maternal OCD is when OCD is developed during or after the stages of pregnancy. During Maternal OCD, women or men develop intrusive thoughts towards their child that are categorized into two subgroups of violence or sex. These thoughts can be imaginations like hurting the child with a knife. Due to these notions, parents obsessively check on the baby even though they know the baby is fine. For parents, it may be hard to open up and find resources that will help them cope with maternal OCD due to the stigma behind the intrusive thoughts that are developed. However, it is important to remember that many other parents experience maternal OCD. You’re a valiant survivor doing your best in difficult circumstances and deserve all the help you can get for yourself (Baby Buddy).

Jenny is a mother who has recovered from maternal OCD. During her pregnancy, Jenny felt everything was going perfectly. Even throughout the delivery process and the first two days after the baby was born, she was in a complete state of happiness. After two days with the baby, Jenny had to get a minor surgery, leaving the new born baby with the father. Jenny was stationed overnight at the hospital to recover from the surgery. That was when her intrusive thoughts began; on her first night, she imagined her daughter in a bloody carriage. 

When Jenny came home, her Maternal OCD worsened. She continued to have more intense intrusive thoughts about the objects in her home. When she saw knives, she thought about how the knives could hurt her child. When she saw negativity in the media, she imagined those things happening to her daughter. These thoughts completely disrupted Jenny’s daily life; she developed anxiety and found herself unable to eat, cook, or perform her daily activities. The more she tried to get rid of her thoughts, the more intense they would come back. She began to question her integrity and her likelihood of being a good mother. 

Later on, Jenny realized that her new intrusive thoughts did not reflect her prior self and began to seek help for her mental illness. Jenny reached out to her doctor, who had initially recommended group therapy because the physician believed Jenny was suffering from mood swings. Group therapy was ineffective for Jenny, as her intrusive thoughts remained. At this point, Jenny did some research on her own and suggested she may be suffering from Maternal OCD. The doctor was then able to refer her to a specialist who was knowledgeable in treating maternal OCD. When Jenny met her new therapist, she practiced exposure response therapy, which encourages patients to face their fears. In Jenny’s case, she was afraid that knives could be used to hurt her child. Jenny had to have a knife beside her at all times while she was with her child so she could lose her fear. This was no easy task for Jenny, and it took hard work and persistence. She has now recovered from maternal OCD and wants to have a second child. 

In Jenny’s case, her Maternal OCD appeared like a switch; with others, it can develop gradually. Patients who are beginning to go through maternal OCD should recognize that their newly developed intrusive thoughts do not define who they are. That is the first step in being able to have the courage to find help for maternal OCD.  Diagnosing Maternal OCD can be difficult since it can be confused with other mental health problems. Jenny used exposure response therapy to help treat her maternal OCD, but there are many more treatments. It is not a one-size-fit-all situation. If your prescriptions do not lead to wanted results, inform your doctor quickly to receive proper diagnosis and treatment. 



Beginnings, B. (Director). (2020, June 13). Maternal Obsessive Compulsive Disorder [Video file]. Retrieved October 9, 2020, from

Clinic, M. (2019, May 11). Symptoms of pregnancy: What happens first. Retrieved October 12, 2020, from

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

When OCD is More than Cleanliness: Pure O OCD

Often, movies depict only one form of (OCD) in films, where characters have habitual rituals like constantly washing their hands before doing a task. For example, Felix Unger, a character from the film “The Odd Couple” (1968), shows indications of OCD in the film where he is constantly cleaning surfaces in the house. Another example is Roy Waller from “Matchstick Men” (2003), who is shown to have OCD cleanliness where he constantly cleans his carpet and wardrobe (Cantrell, 2011). Mainstream media has predominantly characterized OCD as a physical obsessive and compulsive disorder over the years, neglecting disorders such as Pure O OCD. Pure O OCD, scientifically known as non-observable visualization, is a form of OCD where instead of having an uncontrollable physical habitual routine, a person has uncontrollable intrusive thoughts.

There is no definitive reason why people have OCD or Pure O OCD, but there are many theories that try to explain them. OCD can develop from environmental factors. For instance, someone may have set something on the stove on fire. This experience may traumatize and scare the person, causing repetitive thoughts such as, “Did I really turn off the stove?” leading the person to check if the stove is turned off multiple times a day. The excessive behavior of checking the stove multiple times may serve as a coping mechanism to reduce anxiety and fear from the repetitive thoughts. Moreover, neuroimaging has demonstrated there are communication errors that occur in the brain of OCD patients (BeyondOCD). These errors occur in the anterior cingulate, orbitofrontal cortex, striatum, and thalamus parts of the brain responsible for decision making and developing emotions. When someone has random intrusive thoughts, the brain identifies the thought as threatening, leading the person to continually repeat certain behaviors to avoid the threat. In addition, the National Institutes of Health compared DNA samples of parents diagnosed with OCD to that of their offspring. It showed that OCD can be passed on from a parent to offspring; the offspring having a 25% chance of developing the disorder. 

On the other hand, Pure O OCD is thought to be developed differently. Dr. Steven Phillipson, an expert clinical psychologist who discovered Pure O OCD says, “The cause of Pure O OCD is caused by a malfunction in a brain part called the amygdala.” The amygdala is located in the back of the brain and is responsible for basic functions like sleeping and telling the body if it is in danger. The malfunction that occurs is the amygdala sends a sense of terror to intrusive thoughts. The intrusive thoughts that occur are categorized into 3 different subtypes: violence, sex, and religion. An example of a violent intrusive thought is seeing a person on a subway ledge and having the thought of pushing them. Everyone can have intrusive thoughts and forget about them, but someone who has Pure O OCD keeps replaying the intrusive thought repeatedly in their mind, causing them terror. People with Pure O OCD begin to question their state of mind and their personality and lose a sense of self due to the repetitive intrusive thoughts that occur in the mind. 

Luckily there are therapy methods for both OCD and Pure O OCD that may help patients. Exposure response therapy is effective in helping patients face their OCD and Pure O OCD without being afraid. Exposure response therapy teaches patients to purposely think of the thoughts they are afraid of. This is done in order to help patients be prepared to face their intrusive thoughts when they occur. In exposure response  therapy, therapists take small approaches in helping a patient face their fear to not mentally exhaust them. Patients on their own can practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is a state of meditation where people try to understand their thoughts are just thoughts that don’t dictate who they are. Going to OCD groups and observing and talking about the problems other people face can motivate people to recover as well (Hoffman).



Cantrell, W. (2011, January 11). Top 10 O.C.D. Movie Characters. Retrieved September 26, 2020, from

Hoffman, J. (2016). Characterizing Pure O. Retrieved September 27, 2020, from, B. (2018, March 30). What Causes Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)? Retrieved September 28, 2020, from

OfMillions, M. (2016, March 15). OCD3: Dr. Phillipson Talks Science, Symptoms & Treatment of OCD. Retrieved September 25, 2020, from

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Are Toys a Better Alternative in Treating OCD Compared to Modern-Day Medical Methods?

Have you heard of a fidget spinner? A fidget spinner is a toy consisting of a ball barrel and structures that surround the barrel. These structures revolve around the ball barrel in 360-degree rotations both clockwise and counterclockwise with the flick of a finger. These toys come in many different forms and designs, becoming wildly popular within the United States and worldwide in early 2017. So why did such a simple toy become a worldwide sensation?  According to Edmund Salitbus, a fidget spinner collector located in Brooklyn, NY, “There was a great deal of hype that surrounded the toy, everyone wanted one, there were so many options to choose from, and people used the toy as coping mechanisms for attention disorders like ADHD and OCD.” Edmund’s statement raised another question: are toys that have the ability to treat symptoms associated with obsessive compulsions disorders (OCD) a better alternative to treating OCD compared to modern-day medical treatments? 

It is first important to acknowledge what OCD is, the symptoms associated with OCD, and modern-day medical treatments for the mental illness. Two words that generalize the definition and symptoms for OCD is obsession and compulsion (National Institute of Mental Health). Obsessions consist of repetitive thoughts and compulsions consist of repetitive behaviors. Current modern-day treatments for OCD are psychotherapy and prescription medication. There are different forms of psychotherapy used to treat OCD. One form of psychotherapy is behavioral therapy where therapists continuously help their patients face what they fear most. This repetitive exposure is to help patients face their obsessions and compulsions until they are no longer troubled by them. Another form of psychotherapy is cognitive therapy, where patients are taught to recognize their obsessions and compulsions and then think of positive alternatives that are less psychologically threatening (Kelly, 2020). 

A combination of psychotherapy and prescription medication can go a long way in treating OCD. However, these methods have some drawbacks. The cost of a therapist and prescription drugs is expensive. In 2017 the “United Census Bureau” reported, 7.9% of Americans were medically uninsured, the number rising to 8.5% in 2018. In addition, many insurance companies do not cover expenses to see a therapist unless it is a matter of life and death. This leaves people having to pay for their own treatments for OCD. Furthermore, a study done by students from the University of Rochester has shown that in order for psychotherapy to work effectively, a patient must be motivated. This raises a problem since during psychotherapy patients have to go through tough mental experiences. These experiences can lead patients to give up on therapy. 

On the other hand, toys are not expensive and people who suffer from OCD are not usually faced with difficult circumstances that make them shy away from toys. How exactly do toys help people cope with OCD? Simply put, toys help people avoid obsessions and compulsions by allowing the person to focus on something else. However, this is not the best form of treatment because toys help people avoid the problem they are facing, modern-day medical treatments work on tackling the obsessions and compulsions people face. Toys may serve as a temporary comfort, but they fail to resolve the problem in the long term.  Dr. Trelles, a psychiatrist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City says, “Devices should be used in conjunction with these things because only using a toy to cure your anxiety isn’t going to get you where you need to be.” Toys alone may not entirely help people cope with OCD, and might be more effective if used in conjunction with other treatments. 



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