Niall Horan, 26, has become a household name on the global music scene, following on from the meteoric rise of One Direction, the boyband he was a member of until their hiatus in 2016. The singer’s solo career shows no sign of slowing down, with the star performing his latest single ‘Nice To Meet Ya’ at the recent MTV EMA awards. Placed firmly under the spotlight, fans may think they know everything about his personal and professional life, but the singer recently opened up about a health condition he lives with.
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Speaking to the German magazine Zeit Leo, Niall said: “I have mild obsessive compulsive disorder, that’s what doctors call it. That is, I feel like I have to do things in a certain way.
As the NHS explains, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common mental health condition in which a person has obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours.
It affects men, women and children and can develop at any age, and, although some people develop the condition early, often around puberty, it typically develops during early adulthood.
Niall developed the condition in his childhood, which caused him to feel isolated fro his schoolmates, he revealed.
If you have OCD, you’ll usually experience frequent obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours, notes the NHS.
This tends to manifest itself in two ways, explains the health body:
An obsession is an unwanted and unpleasant thought, image or urge that repeatedly enters your mind, causing feelings of anxiety, disgust or unease
A compulsion is a repetitive behaviour or mental act that you feel you need to carry out to try to temporarily relieve the unpleasant feelings brought on by the obsessive thought
It added: “For example, someone with an obsessive fear of their house being burgled may feel they need to check all the windows and doors are locked several times before they can leave the house.”
The pop singer divulged the impact OCD has had on his live performances: “I have one fixed sequence. I always have to sing in the same order, move and so on. I’ll basically do everything immediately, otherwise I’ll get nervous quickly.”
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It’s important to get help if you think you have OCD and it’s having a significant impact on your life, particularly as the condition is unlikely to get better on its own, explains the NHS.
Fortunately, the condition is treatable, and the nature of the treatment recommended will depend on how much it’s affecting your life, says the health body.
The two main treatments are:
Psychological therapy – usually a type of therapy that helps you face your fears and obsessive thoughts without “putting them right” with compulsions
Medicine – usually a type of antidepressant medicine that can help by altering the balance of chemicals in your brain
A short course of therapy is usually recommended for relatively mild OCD, but more severe cases of OCD may require a longer course of therapy and/or medication.
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These treatments can be very effective, but it’s important to be aware that it can take several months before you notice the benefit, says the NHS.
The main therapy technique tends to be cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), as Bupa explained: “CBT is a type of talking therapy that can help you to change how you react to your thoughts. How many sessions of CBT you have will depend on the severity of your OCD. You may have one-to-one sessions or group therapy.”
According to the health site, one of the main forms of CBT is called exposure and response prevention (ERP) – this is used as a way to stop your obsessions and compulsions from strengthening each other.
It added: “ERP works on the theory that if you’re in a stressful situation for long enough, you’ll gradually get used to it and your anxiety will go away.”
If psychological therapy does not prove effective, you may need medication, notes the NHS.
The main medications prescribed are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and these can help improve OCD symptoms by increasing the levels of a chemical called serotonin in your brain.
You may need to take the medication for 12 weeks before you notice any effect, and most people require treatment for at least a year, according to the health site.
It added: “You may be able to stop if you have few or no troublesome symptoms after this time, although some people need to take medication for many years.”
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