Excessive hand-washing. Tech addiction. Behaviors once considered extreme are currently crucial to protect us amid a dangerous pandemic

This specific brand new normal inside the face of a deadly pandemic has permeated our culture as well as will continue to influence the idea. Many stores currently prominently post rules mandating face masks as well as hand sanitizer use as well as limit the number of customers allowed inside at one time. Walkers as well as joggers politely cross the street to avoid proximity to each some other.

Only a few months ago, This specific type of behavior would likely have been considered excessive as well as certainly not healthy.

So, where do doctors draw the line between vigilance to avoid being infected with the coronavirus as well as obsessive-compulsive disorder which can be harmful?

This specific will be an important question which I, a psychiatrist, as well as my co-author, a wellness as well as parenting coach, often hear.

Adaptation or internet addiction?

Since the start of the pandemic, the idea has become more challenging to assess behaviors which were once considered excessive. Many behaviors previously considered pathological are currently considered essential to protect human health as well as are applauded as adaptive as well as resourceful.

Before Covid-19, concerns about compulsive use of the internet or internet addiction, characterized by overuse as well as overdependence on digital devices, were growing.
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During the pandemic, however, society has quickly adapted online opportunities. Whenever possible, people are working coming from home, attending school online as well as socializing through online book clubs. Even certain health care needs are increasingly being met remotely through telehealth as well as telemedicine.

Technology has become a lifeline during the pandemic, allowing people to work, go to school as well as keep in touch with family as well as friends all coming from home.
Overnight, digital connections have become commonplace, with many of us feeling fortunate to have This specific access. Similar to contamination fears, some digital behaviors which were once questioned have become adaptive behaviors which keep us healthy — nevertheless not all of them.

will be the idea obsessive-compulsive or protective?

While Covid-19-era behaviors may look like clinical OCD, there are key distinctions between protective behaviors inside the face of a clear as well as present danger like a pandemic as well as a clinical diagnosis of OCD.

The repetitive, ritualistic thoughts, ideas as well as behaviors seen in clinical OCD are very time-consuming for people dealing with them, as well as they significantly interfere with several important areas of the person’s life, including work, school as well as social interactions.

Some people have obsessive-compulsive traits which are less severe. These traits are often observed in high-achieving people as well as are not clinically debilitating. Such “keep the eye on the prize” behaviors are recognized in nearly 20% of the population. A talented chef who will be very attentive to detail may be referred to as “obsessive-compulsive.” So may a detail-oriented engineer building a bridge or an accountant doing taxes by examining files coming from many different angles.
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The critical difference will be which the persistent, repetitive, ritualistic thoughts, ideas as well as behaviors seen in those suffering coming from clinical OCD often take over the person’s life.

When most of us check the door once or twice to make sure the idea will be locked or wash our hands or use sanitizer after going to the grocery store or using the restroom, our brains send us the “all clear” signal as well as tell us the idea will be safe to move on to some other things.

A person with OCD never gets the “all clear” signal. the idea will be not uncommon for a person with OCD to spend several hours per day washing their hands to the point their skin becomes cracked as well as bleeds. Some people with OCD have checking rituals which prevent them coming from ever leaving their home.

OCD triggers have become harder to avoid

The same principles which apply to compulsive hand-washing behaviors also apply to compulsive use of the internet as well as electronic devices. Excessive use can interfere with work as well as school as well as harm psychological as well as social functioning. Besides social as well as familial problems, those behaviors can lead to medical problems, including back as well as neck pain, obesity as well as eye strain.

The American Pediatric Association recommends which teenagers spend no more than two hours per day using the internet or electronic devices. Some teenagers with internet addiction are spending as many as 80 to 100 hours per week on the internet, refusing to do anything else, including their schoolwork, outside activities as well as interacting with their families. The digital world becomes a black hole which will be increasingly difficult for them to escape.
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For those who struggle with compulsive use of the internet as well as social media, the brand new, increased demands to use digital platforms for work, school, grocery shopping as well as extracurricular activities can open the black hole even further.

People with pre-pandemic contamination fears, or who previously were unable to regulate their use of technology, find trigger situations which were once avoidable have currently become even more ubiquitous.

Keeping the threat response in check

As brand new behavioral norms evolve due to the changing social conditions, the way which certain behaviors are identified as well as described may also evolve. Expressions such as being “so OCD” or “addicted to the internet” may take on different meanings as frequent hand-washing as well as online communication become common.

For those of us adapting to our brand new normal, the idea will be important to recognize which the idea will be healthy to follow brand new guidelines for social distancing, washing hands as well as wearing masks, as well as which the idea will be OK to spend extra time on the internet or some other social media with the brand new limits on personal interactions. However, if internet use or hand-washing becomes uncontrollable or “compulsive,” or if intrusive “obsessive” thoughts about cleanliness as well as infection become problematic, the idea’s time to seek help coming from a mental health professional.

The Conversation

David Rosenberg will be a professor of psychiatry as well as neuroscience at Wayne State University. Roen Chiriboga, a wellness as well as parenting coach in Troy, Michigan, contributed to This specific article. Disclosure statement: Rosenberg receives funding coming from the Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation, Detroit, MI, as well as a grant coming from the National Institute of Mental Health (R01MH59299). This specific work was also supported in part by the State of Michigan Lycaki Young Fund as well as the Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network.

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