We all think we know what OCD is, and most of the time we're all wrong. It's the nervous guy from Monk; it's cranky Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets. In the end, though, things usually work out for them. They even get the girl, who sees them as a kind of adorable emotional fixer-upper.
But OCD isn't adorable. About 7 million adults, teens and children in the U.S. are now thought to have it in one form or another, and their pain is far worse than you probably know. What's more, since one family member disabled by the disorder can destabilize an entire household, a single diagnosed case can mean several collateral victims. Worse, OCD is a condition that often masquerades as other things. It is routinely labeled depression, bipolar disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, even schizophrenia. Victims often conceal their problem for years, ensuring that no diagnosis--right or wrong--can begin to be made.