College students experience more OCD symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic

A new study uses data collected by the Visual Cognition Laboratory at George Washington University to explore the impact of the pandemic on symptoms associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

The study found that college students tested during the height of the pandemic reported higher rates of two key OCD symptoms: thoughts of disapproval and a fear of contamination.


“This study is a prime example of how data collected for one purpose — in this case, studying individual differences in cognitive ability — can be used to uncover Orthogonal questions may be of particular interest to the wider community,” said Stephen R. Mitroff, a professor of cognitive neuroscience at GW.

“It’s exciting to be able to leverage this data to add to research on how the pandemic has affected the mental health of college students.”

Although concerns about contracting COVID-19 have generally subsided in the later stages of the pandemic, students continue to experience many unpleasant or unwanted thoughts.

Interesting, though Men and women tend to exhibit different OCD behaviorsreported symptoms were consistent across sexes.

The results of this study are consistent with recent research that found OCD symptoms increased in children and adolescents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Experts believe that 2-3% of adults in the United States have OCD, but perhaps more than 90% of the population experiences undiagnosed, less disruptive OCD symptoms.

The results of this study may contribute to the growing research on the prevalence of mental illness in college students and the possible role of environmental factors in the development of OCD.

The study, “An increase in symptoms associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder in college students during the COVID-19 pandemic,” was conducted by Michael E. Silverman, clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Mitroff, and other. It was published in American Journal of College Health.

Source: Eurekalert

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