What can the Target Christmas sweater teach us about OCD?

U-M psychiatrist explains what obsessive-compulsive disorder is REALLY about

target OCD sweater

This week, Target made news for debuting a holiday-themed sweater that labeled OCD as “Obsessive Christmas Disorder” – a play on the condition’s real full name, obsessive compulsive disorder.

Critics are accusing the store as “trivializing mental illness” and are saying that this message “perpetuates myths and misunderstandings.”

We sat down with OCD expert and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry Kate Fitzgerald, M.D., to set the record straight.

How do you identify true OCD?

Fitzgerald_576Dr. Fitzgerald: Typically, we diagnose true OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) in someone who has unusual, intrusive and repetitive worry or fears. These fears or worries may interfere with his or her functioning in some way (school attendance or performance, relationships with family members or peers, involvement in activities). Generally, a person with true OCD reports thoughts or fears that come to mind over and over again, even though they might realize the worries do not make sense. Some examples of obsessive thoughts are fear of contamination, accidental violence, or needing to feel “just right.”
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Baby blues & beyond: New ways to help new moms with depression

From talk therapy to yoga, U-M team offers care and a chance to help others through research

Postpartum depression affects many women in the first months after a baby is born.

Postpartum depression affects many women in the first months after a baby is born.

They’re supposed to be the happiest times of your life, right? But being pregnant or a new mom can have a dark side – temporary or lasting depression.

How quickly you get help, and what kind of help you get, for symptoms like moodiness, insomnia and loss of appetite can make a big difference for you and your baby.

Maria Muzik, M.D., M.S., who leads a University of Michigan clinic focused on mental health during pregnancy and the first year of a child’s life, offers more information on this important issue. May is the awareness month for these issues.

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Tips for talking to children about tragic events

Returning to school Monday after the school shootings in Connecticut will be a challenge for both children and parents, but parents can try to minimize the anxiety and reassure children.

Even very young children can have feelings about scary events.  The good news is that children and youth are often quite resilient.  An important part of children’s positive coping is for parents to make sure that their children feel connected, heard and understood, and loved.

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