Amanda Seyfried knows all too well what it’s like to live with the intrusive thoughts of obsessive-compulsive disorder.
When the “Mamma Mia!” and “Les Misérables” star bought a house near the Catskill Mountains, she made sure there would be no stove because she was too worried about the possibility of it being left on and starting a fire, she told Allure.
To help her cope with the effects of OCD, the actress says she’s been taking Lexapro, a drug used to treat depression and anxiety, for 11 years.
“I’ll never get off of it… I don’t see the point of getting off of it,” Seyfried told Allure, noting she takes the lowest dose.
“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? A mental illness is a thing that people cast in a different category [from other illnesses], but I don’t think it is. It should be taken as seriously as anything else.”
Just because people don’t see a mental illness, doesn’t mean it’s not there, Seyfried added.
“If you can treat it, you treat it. 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. 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,” she told the magazine.
OCD affects about 1 percent of the U.S. adult population, or more than 2 million people, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
Sufferers have uncontrollable, intrusive thoughts and engage in behaviors they feel the overwhelming urge to repeat over and over, which can interfere with all aspects of their life, it notes.
You may think of someone with OCD as being overly — almost comically — concerned about organization or cleanliness, but the disorder causes real anxiety and fear. OCD sufferers can’t control their behaviors and don’t feel pleasure doing them, the National Institute of Mental Health says. Their time-consuming rituals can take up a chunk of their day.
It’s also not always about germs or organization. People with OCD may fear for their safety and repeatedly check on things, like seeing if the door is locked or that the oven is off. They may feel the need to count things or activities. They may also experience tics such as eye blinking, shoulder shrugging or throat clearing.
Medication and psychotherapy can usually help.