Super Bowl superstitions differ from OCD

Feb. 2, 2013 at 7:10 PM
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NASHVILLE, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- If a football fan's pregame rituals take as long as a Super Bowl pregame show, their superstitions could be something more serious, a U.S. psychiatrist says.

As football fans wear their unwashed jerseys, or line up their remote controls like the character of Robert De Niro in "Silver Linings Playbook," many might wonder whether their Super Bowl superstitions might be obsessive-compulsive disorder -- but the difference is people with OCD feel they must perform rituals to avoid catastrophic outcomes, ABC News reported.

Dr. Todd Peters, a psychiatrist at Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital in Nashville, said OCD differs from putting on socks in a particular order in hopes of influencing the outcome of a game.

"That's not really going to get in the way of life, in contrast to the person who anxiously has to repeat everything he did the day his team won probably has a problem," Peters told ABC-News.

"Because life is ever-changing, they can't expect other people to buy into their ritual or compulsion. People get so stuck in their minds that they can't get off that topic."

Peters said people with OCD get "stuck" trying to rid themselves of anxious feelings via certain behaviors -- some are fairly logical, such as compulsive hand-washing to avoid germs, but others are bizarre, such as needing to see a certain animal run to the right to keep a family member from dying.

Peters said it's important that people with OCD know that a combination of drugs and therapy can help them manage their symptoms. About a third of the people who have OCD find a resolution, another third will have episodes that come and go, and a final third will struggle with moderate to severe symptoms throughout their lives, Peter said.

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