A multimedia art project featuring an independent movie and an online forum for creative expression has been established to raise awareness and change public attitudes about Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, or OCD.

The centerpiece film, known as Machine Man-The Movie, portrays a young man who suffers from increasingly irrational fears and obsessions that interfere with his efforts to develop a relationship with the woman he loves. With the script already finalized, the filmmakers have created a grassroots campaign to generate funds for the movie's production.

The online forum invites patients, their families and friends, and the general public to submit songs, poems, and other artistic works about their OCD experiences. The site provides a safe outlet and empowers those afflicted to bring the disease into mainstream consciousness through artistic expression.

Living with OCD

OCD interferes with daily life, as patients suffer from compulsions, obsessions or a combination of both. Obsessions include excessive and repetitive fears, thoughts and worries that are consuming and disturbing. Sufferers are often aware of the overpowering nature of their obsessions though believe they cannot control their occurrence. They may try to cope with these unwanted thoughts by engaging in repetitive behaviors, or compulsions.

Compulsions may or may not be related to obsessions but are nonetheless an effort to alleviate the anxieties they provoke. Someone consumed with a fear of germs may repeatedly wash his hands, while someone afraid she might commit a harmful act, for instance, may repeatedly clap her hands three times or engage in another seemingly senseless ritual. The repetitive actions only provide temporary relief and are often distressing and time-consuming.

Creators of Machine Man Look to the Community For Help

As part of its outreach efforts, creators of the Machine Man project are sponsoring a song contest with the winning tune to be featured in the movie. The forum also welcomes the public to join in conversations about OCD and serves as a support network for people with the condition. The goal is to remove the shame and stigma surrounding OCD via an online community, and new events are being developed to attract further attention and awareness.

Treating OCD

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 2.2 million American adults are afflicted with OCD, with the onset occurring in childhood, adolescence or early adulthood. Men and women are equally affected, and research suggests a possible familial link.

Psychotherapy and medication is often recommended in combination to treat the condition. Cognitive Behavior Therapy with a trained specialist addresses ways to recognize and change thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Medications that increase serotonin, a naturally occurring chemical involved in the transmission of impulses between nerve cells, have been found to be effective.

Further research is underway as scientists seek to better understand the illness and develop new treatments.

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