If you look at social media, everybody claims to have OCD. There are tons of websites offering tests to diagnose you, but are they really trustworthy?
Something that’s great about our technologically driven generation is that there’s so much information in our reach, so we’ve become more aware of so many different conditions and realities. However, the negative side is that we DO have so much information within our reach. I know it might sound like an absolute contradiction, but that’s actually what characterizes us. We’re a walking contradiction. I mention this because we’ve become more aware of mental disorders, and OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) is probably the one we mention the most. So while this is great, at the same time there’s a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding regarding this disorder. Then, it gets easily confused with another term we love to apply for everything, ADHD (attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder).
When I was a kid in the nineties, it was a term you’d listen to all the time. At least four of my classmates were diagnosed with that and even got medicated for it. Not only was it in vogue, but it was like an easy answer for parents if their kids were a bit mischievous. Years later, we went to an elementary school reunion, and it turned out that only one of these kids actually had ADHD, another found out that he actually had OCD, and the other ones were just fine. Just as those diagnoses where trendy in those days, now it appears that OCD is the disorder everybody claims to have whenever they show a minor obsession, and this only generates more misinformation.
Talking about things that are encouraging this, I recently found a test that allegedly tells you up to what degree you might have OCD. Yes, I’m not kidding. The test appears on a website called Anxiety Centre, which appears to be an online group that offers therapy and information regarding anxiety disorders. I tried clicking basically everything, and I was unable to see if they have a physical center or who was the person behind this, so from that single point, my distrust grew a little bit. Anyway, let’s go to the test itself. It consists of ten questions of multiple choice (in my opinion, very few to diagnose something so serious). Actually, they’re scale-based answers you can choose from, based on different scenarios that the test poses. I loved the welcoming introduction they give you: "Do you have an obsessive-compulsive personality?" How would I know? I mean, that’s why I came here, to see if I do. Right after that, you find another lovely question, “Do you struggle with obsessions and compulsions (OCD)?” Okay, that would be a reasonable question if they hadn’t deliberately put OCD in parenthesis. Again, if I’m already diagnosed, why would I take the test. Do you know what I mean?
After those questions, then they just send you right to the test. As you can imagine by what I’ve told you so far, the questions and the choices couldn’t be more random. So, the first thing they ask you is, “how much importance you place on your feelings?” Right away you could answer whatever comes to your mind, but if you think about it, this is quite an open question that could have so many different answers according to each situation. I mean, I place much more importance to my feelings when it comes to social relationships, but that's not the case of stuff like playing video games or reading a book. Then they ask you if “you have difficulty making yourself feel safe on the inside,” which for me also depends a lot on the situation.
But then we get to questions that are more related to compulsive patterns of organization, control, and your relationship with others. Now, they make more sense for me, but that doesn’t really mean they might be the right questions to find out if a person has OCD or not. I’m not a psychologist or anything of the sort to know exactly how this disorder is diagnosed, but these seemed to me like kind of obvious questions whose result you can guess just by looking at the choices. I won’t tell you about all the questions, since you may imagine how they're like (I really encourage you to try it and tell me later your opinion), but I’m skipping directly to the result I got.
I got 26 of a range I don’t even know. I’m assuming it’s out of 100, but that isn’t clear. So, according to the test, my score is slightly elevated above the “normal” range. I was actually expecting something higher, but I was amazed by the “thorough" description they give you. According to this, I have obsessive and/or (it’s okay, make it more ambiguous, please) compulsive tendencies. Even though they aren’t “causing any problem at the moment, [they] could become a larger problem.” So, that’s encouraging.
Then they said that “getting the right information can help prevent increasing my levels of compulsion and/or obsessions." But am I really getting the right information? The thing is that they never actually tell people they should go see a specialist. Well, let me rephrase, they do encourage you to take a look at the information in the website. However, they don't recommend going to a specialist, which, in my opinion, is a severe irresponsibility. So, to sum it all, I do think it’s valid to have doubts, especially when there’s so much information out there suggesting through random signs that you might have a mental disorder. But I’d say that if you have the slightest doubt about it, don’t go check these tests. Just go to a specialist that can give you the “right information” for your particular case.
Here’s more on mental health that might interest you:
Images by @melaniabrescia