My name is Bess Cunningham and I have been researching for many years in order to find out how to control my OCD, which I have had since childhood. From as early as I can remember, very disturbing thoughts and impulses that I did not understand have continually plagued me, causing much distress and limiting my ability to function. As a child, I could not explain this, and as an adolescent, I was embarrassed and isolated due to thoughts that caused irrational and bizarre behaviors. I couldn’t comprehend what was happening to me, nor could I find relief or treatment.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder causes many people to feel desperate, hopeless and forlorn. They are bewildered by their symptoms and misunderstood by friends and family. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, OCD afflicts about 2.3% of the US Population, ages 18 to 54. Approximately 3.3 million Americans have OCD in a given year. The disorder is found uniformly among men, women, children, and people of all races and socio-economic backgrounds. OCD typically begins during adolescence or early childhood; at least one third of the cases of adult OCD began in childhood. OCD cost the US 8.4 billion dollars in 1990 in social and economic losses, nearly 6% of the total mental health bill of 148 billion dollars. Due to the hidden nature of the disorder, it has been estimated that the number of cases is much higher.