This may become an unpopular opinion, but it is my informed clinical opinion: We mental health professionals should not be diagnosing germ-based OCD now, and for the next year or so.
When making a diagnosis, mental health professionals need to consider the lasting impact of that diagnosis on the client’s medical record, current and future treatment, and their ability to handle knowing their diagnosis. Telling a client that they have OCD as related to germs, illness, or fears thereof during a pandemic dismisses their legitimate fears.
There is an overabundance of news to take in by traditional and social media, many of whose statements are at odds with one another. It can be difficult to know how to feel informed and confusion can reign when finding trusted sources.
This is an unprecedented time. There is no rule for diagnosing during a pandemic because, thankfully, we have not had one in recent memory that lasted so long or had such far-reaching and significant effects.
Exceptions: If the problem was in existence before the pandemic by several months, and client is certain that it was in place, but it is exacerbated by the pandemic, I might diagnose OCD. If the problem is not related to germs or illness, I would diagnose OCD.
Once the pandemic is over, as things become “the new normal”, continue to monitor the client. Ask how they are easing back into routine. Anxiety, trauma, depression, or obsessive thoughts may cause them to be slower to reintegrate. Ask if the compulsions are similar or have abated at all. OCD is a big diagnosis and I would not want a client saddled with something so heavy if it were situationally appropriate, even if it was out of proportion.
Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist practicing at Clear Mind Group in Weston, Florida. Call 954-612-9553 for a consultation. Follow Autumn on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Sign up for the e-newsletter HERE.