Obsessive compulsive disorder - OCD treatment and therapy from NOCD

OCD and Social Media

3 min read
Phoebe Kranefuss
By Phoebe Kranefuss
Most of us use social media at least once a day: in the US, 90% of young people and 65% of adults are regular users. And many of those users, including me, are accustomed to opening Facebook or Instagram to see endless filtered images of seemingly perfect lives. I have a long-ago acquaintance who moved to Hawaii, and now seems to spend most of her time taking romantic walks on the beach with her photogenic boyfriend, prompting me to ask: who is taking these photos? And should I move to Hawaii??? I tap ‘like’ on Pinterest-worthy smoothies and quinoa bowls made by tanned, toned strangers, and have considered countless drastic life changes when I see an endorsement by someone I hardly even know.

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Being inundated with images of curated perfection feels a lot like being flooded with intrusive thoughts. Logically, I know neither the pictures nor the thoughts are an accurate reflection of reality. But emotionally, I feel overwhelmed by their presence. Sure, I know my acquaintance in Hawaii isn’t always laughing at the beach – but I still can’t help but feel jealous of her life when this is the only part of it I see. If I have an errant thought about harming someone I care about, I know it doesn’t mean I actually want to hurt them, or that I’m a bad person, but in the moment, it’s hard to be logical, and sometimes, I panic.

Because aspects of social media and OCD can be quite similar, sometimes social media usage can exacerbate OCD. Because of this, it is particularly important for people with existing mental health concerns to use the Internet wisely. If we are careful and conscientious users, there’s much to be gained from the community-building power of global communication.

A group of friends

There’s even evidence to suggest that social media can be an extremely valuable resource for individuals with OCD and other mental disorders. So many people suffering from mental health issues do so in silence. Sometimes, talking to family and friends about OCD can feel embarrassing and scary. With social media, including nOCD’s group feature (download here!) individuals can share concerns and stories with others who know exactly where they’re coming from. You might not walk through the cafeteria with a sign above your head that says “I HAVE OCD! DOES ANYONE WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT??” (but if you do – more power to you!!). The Internet allows us to anonymously join other people who have identified themselves as dealing with exactly the same kinds of struggles. Especially for people in early stages of recovery, talking about OCD with the anonymity of a screen name can be a very meaningful preliminary step towards destigmatization – especially when it leads to more IRL conversations about mental health.

How do you use social media in the context of having OCD? Are certain platforms more triggering than others? Are any of them helpful? Speaking of social media, let us know on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter at @treatmyocd

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If you or someone you know is struggling with OCD, schedule a free call today with the NOCD clinical team to learn more about how a licensed therapist can help. ERP (Evidence and Response Prevention therapy) is most effective when the therapist conducting the treatment has experience with OCD and training in ERP. At NOCD, all therapists specialize in OCD and receive ERP-specific training.

Phoebe Kranefuss

Phoebe helps bring new treatment options and research opportunities to the NOCD community. She's from the San Francisco Bay Area and loves rock climbing, reading, and dogs.

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NOCD Therapists specialize in treating OCD

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Taylor Newendorp

Taylor Newendorp

Licensed Therapist, MA

I started as a therapist over 14 years ago, working in different mental health environments. Many people with OCD that weren't being treated for it crossed my path and weren't getting better. I decided that I wanted to help people with OCD, so I became an OCD therapist, and eventually, a clinical supervisor. I treated people using Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) and saw people get better day in and day out. I continue to use ERP because nothing is more effective in treating OCD.

Madina Alam

Madina Alam

Licensed Therapist, LCMHC

When I started treating OCD, I quickly realized how much this type of work means to me because I had to learn how to be okay with discomfort and uncertainty myself. I’ve been practicing as a licensed therapist since 2016. My graduate work is in mental health counseling, and I use Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) therapy because it’s the gold standard of OCD treatment.

Tamara Harrison

Tamara Harrison

Licensed Therapist, MA

I have personally struggled with OCD and know what it's like to feel controlled by intrusive thoughts and compulsions, and to also overcome it using the proper therapy. I’ve been a licensed therapist since 2017. I have an M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and practice Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) therapy. I know by experience how effective ERP is in treating OCD symptoms.

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