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Amanda Seyfried On OCD & Mental Illness: ‘If You Can Treat It, You Treat It’

Amanda Seyfried On OCD & Mental Illness: 'If You Can Treat It, You Treat It'

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Last night while skimming through social media, I discovered one of my favorite actresses Amanda Seyfried was trending.  Curious, I clicked on Seyfried name and was pleasantly surprised to see Seyfried coming forward about her mental health struggles in an effort to reduce the stigmas surrounding mental illness.

Even if you are not a huge Seyfried fan (Mean Girls? Les Mis? Anything?), you have to commend Seyfried for opening up about her personal struggle. More and more celebrities are revealing their battle with mental illness. Actresses like Kirsten Bell and Jessie J have recently opened up about their depression with the goal of spreading the message of hope and encouragement to the millions who feel they are fighting a lone battle.

Seyfried opened up in the November issue of Allure about her experience with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and anxiety. The number one thing she wants fans to know is OCD is not a joke.

“It should be taken as seriously as anything else,” the 30-year-old actress said. “You don’t see the mental illness: It’s not a mass; it’s not a cyst. But it’s there. Why do you need to prove it? If you can treat it, you treat it.”

Seyfried even admitted that for the past 11 years, she had treated her OCD with a low dose of Lexapro, a widely use antidepressant. More importantly, she does not plan to stop.

“I don’t see the point of getting off of it,” she said. “Whether it’s placebo or not, I don’t want to risk it. And what are you fighting against? Just the stigma of using a tool?”

OCD affects 1 in 100 adults and 1 in 200 kids. OCD affects both men and women at equal rates. Many people first experience OCD in the form of anxiety.

“I had pretty bad health anxiety that came from the OCD and thought I had a tumor in my brain. I had an MRI, and the neurologist referred me to a psychiatrist,” the actress explained.

The classic symptoms of OCD vary from person to person but can include elaborate routines like hand-washing, overzealous cleaning, and the uncontrollable need to perform tasks according to a certain numeric pattern. Symptoms can range from mild to severe. In more severe cases, symptoms of OCD can have a profound impact on a person’s daily life.

“Checking behaviors”— this common OCD behavior results in the compulsion to constantly check things four, five and even 20 times. Nearly 30% of people with OCD feel the need to check and recheck things.

Seyfried admits she struggled with this sort of behavior, and that it prevented her from installing a renovated barn at her Pennsylvania estate.

“I always worry about people and how they use stoves,” Seyfried said, later adding, “You could so easily burn down something if you leave the stove on. Or the oven.”

On Managing Her OCD

Seyfried successfully treated and managed her OCD through treatment. She says the progress has continually occurred over time:

 “As I get older, the compulsive thoughts and fears have diminished a lot. Knowing that a lot of my fears are not reality-based really helps.” Seyfried says.

In Seyfried’s case, medication and the guidance of a psychiatrist were able to treat her OCD. Most doctors recommend patients with OCD use this route for treatment. Research confirms that a combination of medication and exposure therapy can help diminish symptoms. Exposure therapy allows a patient to purposely confront their OCD triggers (like walking by a sink of dirty dishes) without reacting to those triggers.
OCD is far from a joking manner. It is so common to hear people joke about how OCD they are simply because they make their bed every day, or like to keep their desk tidy. OCD is not about cleanliness. OCD can be debilitating, and in many cases, treatment is necessary. It is important that we do everything we can to reduce stigmas associated with mental illnesses like OCD. Stigmas are what prevent so many people from seeking the help they desperately need.

If you or anyone you know is experiencing OCD, see a specialist who can help diagnose and customize a treatment plan. Mental illnesses should be treated like any other illness. Do not feel ashamed to seek treatment. You are not alone. Call todayIf you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or mental illness, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588.

Author: Shernide Delva

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