In this blog post, we will find out what the worst jobs for people with OCD are. We will also understand what alternative jobs are out there, why it is challenging for people with OCD to work, why OCD is a significant issue at the workplace, how to manage it better.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is characterised by intrusive and unwanted thoughts and repetitive behaviours that the person with OCD senses a compulsion to perform like rituals. Most people with OCD realise the irrationality behind their thoughts yet feel like they have no way to stop them.
Worst Jobs for People with OCD
People with OCD usually have difficulty with jobs that involve goal-setting, social interaction, meeting tight deadlines, unpredictability, and unstructured work ethic.
Jobs requiring decision-making may also not be ideal, as they might be perfectionists, and this, coupled with black-and-white thinking, poses challenges in making decisions. It is also usually best to avoid jobs that frequently trigger their obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviours or both.
Specifically, the following is a list of worst jobs for people with OCD:
- Newspaper Reporter
- Public Speaker
- Customer Service Representative
Top Ten Jobs for OCD
The top ten jobs for someone with OCD are as follows:
- Software Programming.
- Accounting and Bookkeeping.
- Editor, Writer, and Proofreader.
- Travel Agent
Now, back to the worse jobs for people with OCD. Below we will provide brief guides on why each of these jobs are not suitable for someone with OCD.
Working as a manager can be demanding as it entails a substantial amount of uncertainty and decision-making. This uncertainty comes from having to work with other people. People with OCD desire certainty and structure, making management an unideal choice of work for them.
This profession requires continual production of information on a daily, or even hourly, basis. Such demands are deadline-laden and thus, does not provide people with OCD enough flexibility to tend to their mental health.
Public speaking could evoke a lot of anxiety in people with OCD. As the name suggests, being a public speaker implies being out there in “public.” For those with OCD and social anxiety disorder or agoraphobia, this could make matters much worse.
As this job requires physical contact with other people, it could be an OCD nightmare for some people with this condition.
Apart from being heavy on interaction, this job entails handling money, such as credit cards, and currency notes and coins, which may be triggering for people with obsessions involving germs or contamination.
This job involves tight deadlines, demanding goals, and most importantly, social interaction. All these factors combined make it a wrong career choice for those with OCD. Sometimes, they may also have generalised anxiety, which implicates maladaptive social cognitions. Hence, it is best to avoid professions requiring long hours of interaction with people, such as a salesperson.
Customer Service Representative
Akin to a salesperson, a customer service representative would have to converse with people a lot. Such interactions typically come with excessive commotion, unpredictability, lack of structure, and restlessness. Hence, this is not a good option for people suffering from OCD.
With that said, it is essential to understand that the best job for people with OCD is the best job for them as an individual. With appropriate treatment, their OCD can be managed, and they may be able to improve other functionalities as well.
Alternative Career Choices for People with OCD
There are various jobs which would suit people with OCD.
Writer, Editor, and Proofreader
The main focus of these jobs is authoring articles after intense research and rectifying errors of various sorts before publishing. Although it requires long working hours, it is flexible and convenient.
Prerequisites for this job include programming skills, ability to test, evaluate, and develop a variety of software. A person with OCD who is detail-oriented could consider this as a career choice. It is also suitable for people with Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD).
An evolving field, photography provides the perfect opportunity to satisfy compulsive urges by creating detail-oriented pictures. Also, there is no need for social interaction.
Bookkeeping is an excellent option as it involves concentration, organisation, and details. People with OCD tend to incline toward rules and regulations, making accountancy a perfect career choice for them.
A medical coder is one who manages data on health information. They attempt to maintain comprehensive, precise, and accessible records. This job entails repetition and paying attention to detail, and can be done remotely, making it ideal for people with OCD.
If the person with OCD is an expert in a particular subject area and is passionate about teaching, they can be an online instructor. This job tackles the problems of being a teacher at an institute as it minimises human interaction.
This job can be found in abundance in professions related to medicine and law. The transcriber will primarily work with medical reports or legal documents. Writing transcripts and producing captions for audio and visual content could also be considered. It could be appealing to some people with OCD as it provides structure and is detail-oriented.
Why Is It Challenging for People with OCD to Work?
There are several issues that people with OCD face while trying to work a job. One of the predominant problems is related to delay; by the time they finish the time-consuming rituals before leaving for work, they end up getting late.
Secondly, being in a public space, while commuting as well as at work, could trigger their intrusive thoughts and compulsive behaviours. Further, misunderstandings may occur with their colleagues, employers, and subordinates, as they may check documents over and over again, making them seem disorganised or late to meetings.
In the workplace, OCD issues typically look like the following:
- More time to finish work as a consequence of obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours;
- Problems related to focus and concentration;
- Being elusive of particular people, duties, and things that act as triggering stimuli;
- Constant worry revolving around the perception of them and their ritualistic behaviours; and
- Avoiding public spaces, such as conference rooms and bathrooms, due to fear of germs and contaminations
Some people do understand the challenges people with OCD face. Mostly, however, the stigma around mental health issues is still widely prevalent and may take considerable time before things become better for people with various psychological difficulties.
Workplaces may try to be considerate toward people with OCD by allowing them to work from home or assign a different desk for them, offer flexible work hours, and permit time away from work to attend therapy.
Why Is OCD a Significant Problem in the Workplace?
This condition is a serious issue because people with OCD experience too much anxiety because of their thoughts and resulting ritualistic behaviours.
Obsessions usually include fear of germs or contamination, harming someone, aggressive actions, unacceptable sexual content, inappropriate religious content, and need for symmetry and order.
Typically, compulsions may be excessive washing and cleaning, checking and rechecking, hoarding, organising and arranging, and repeating routine activities. Most compulsions are overt (observable) behaviours, while some are covert (e.g., silently reciting nonsense words).
People with OCD have difficulties with performance and work productivity as the rituals they engage in are time-consuming.
Discrimination of people with OCD may often take the following appearance:
- Lack of promotion because of fears that the mental illness would not allow the person to function as per company standards;
- Inconsideration on the part of coworkers, who may make fun of or get annoyed by the person with OCD having to take breaks from particular duties or interactions;
- Coworkers and bosses may even perceive the person to be of less competence than required;
- No allowance of paid leaves on account of mental health; and
- Use of derogatory terms such as “insane,” “crazy,” and “weak” in conversations surrounding mental health
Although it is disabling, there are employment opportunities that benefit from certain obsessive and compulsive behaviours, if tapped into properly. For example, people with OCD and OCPD are likely to perform well in jobs involving quality control or long hours of remote work.
Treatment Options: How to Manage This Issue
Timely and appropriate treatment is a useful way to manage OCD symptoms, not only in the workplace.
The primary treatment option includes Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which helps people recognise, comprehend, and alter their negative thought and behavioural patterns. They are also taught problem-solving skills during therapy sessions and are told to practise them over time to build adaptive coping styles and habits.
Typically, mental health practitioners employ a therapeutic approach, which is a component of CBT known as Exposure Response Prevention Therapy (ERP). In ERP, the therapist helps the patient get gradually exposed to a fear repeatedly until they stop obsessing over it. They are taught how to resist the desire to perform their compulsive rituals.
The professional may recommend the antidepressant type called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs).
Other antidepressants approved by the FDA include:
Brain Stimulation Therapies
Brain stimulation therapies such as Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) are other treatment options approved by the FDA for the treatment of OCD. Adults for whom traditional approaches prove to be ineffective may opt for these treatment options.
Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.
In this blog post, we understood what the worst jobs for people with OCD are, what alternative career options they have, why it is challenging for them to work, why it is a significant problem, and possible treatment options.
Despite being a debilitating condition, especially during the coronavirus pandemic, OCD is manageable with appropriate treatment, and those with the disorder can find and sustain in various jobs. Tell us your thoughts in the comment section below.
What we recommend for OCD
If you are diagnosed with OCD then ongoing professional counselling could be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Worst Jobs for People with OCD
What is the best job for a person with OCD?
For a person with OCD, the most recommended job is that of a writer, proofreader, or editor. This suggestion is made because of convenience; several companies call for freelance work, which comes with flexibility, permitting time for taking care of one’s mental health.
Other options include:
What medications can worsen OCD?
Sometimes, it is possible for stimulant medications prescribed for ADHD to worsen OCD. These stimulants typically make distracting themselves from their obsessions rather challenging.
Is it disabling to have a severe form of OCD?
Yes, severe OCD is a disability. However, if even with treatment, the symptoms are severe, the Social Security Administration (SSA) provides disability benefits.
Is it possible to recuperate from severe OCD?
Although it is not possible to cure OCD, with necessary interventions, a lot of people can gain considerable management over their symptoms.
What are the types of OCD?
There are several types of OCD, including contamination, hoarding, checking, symmetry, and ruminations or intrusive thoughts. Often, there is an overlap of themes among these categories.
What does one mean by high-functioning OCD?
High-functioning OCD refers to a condition wherein, although the anxiety, obsessions, and compulsions are present, the person with this OCD can regulate them better. With that said, without timely treatment, the symptoms may get worse.
What factors can worsen OCD?
Specific stressors, usually involving some change, can make the condition worse. These triggers can be a marriage, a breakup or divorce, a move to a different country or house, changing schools, and a natural calamity.