WETZSTEIN: ‘Pure suffering’ for OCD patients

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As many as 7 million people struggle with OCD, he told me. It often appears between ages 18 and 22, but it can emerge as early as age 2 or as late as age 35. Men exhibit OCD symptoms earlier than women, but over time, the disorder strikes as many women as men. It is considered manageable, not curable.

OCD has many forms, including perfectionism, hoarding and “scrupulosity,” a condition in which the person performs endless rituals in an attempt to please God or avoid damnation.

OCD in children may first be noticed in school, said psychologist Eric Storch, who teaches at the University of Southern Florida and is a scientific adviser to the Obsessive Compulsive Foundation.

Rereading and rewriting can be big issues, he said. For instance, he knows a young man who is “a straight-A student” but struggles to take tests. “He can’t write things down perfectly so he keeps erasing until he finally gives up,” Mr. Storch said.

Other children avoid school because the textbooks are all contaminated or they can’t use the toilets or they have hard-to-hide rituals that must be done during the day, he said.

It’s easy to fall into despair when a loved one exhibits OCD. That’s why Mr. Zine’s story is worth hearing. After all, once he got out of the basement, a new life, loving wife, two children and good job were waiting for him.

Next week: Flipping the OCD script.

Cheryl Wetzstein can be reached at cwetzstein@washingtontimes.com.

About the Author
Cheryl Wetzstein

Cheryl Wetzstein

Cheryl Wetzstein covers family and social issues as a national reporter for The Washington Times. She has been a reporter for three decades, working in New York City and Washington, D.C. Since joining The Washington Times in 1985, she has been a features writer, environmental and consumer affairs reporter, and assistant business editor.

Beginning in 1994, Mrs. Wetzstein worked exclusively ...

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