Mom's Life Hurt by Obsessive Fear of Sweaters, Germs, Hotels

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OCD Task List Includes Curtailing Hand Washing

Using a public restroom, curtailing her hand washing, not washing sheets and wearing sweaters are all on Horton's task list.

But the longer a patient has had OCD, the more "difficult and challenging it is to break," said Mulcahy.

"A thought causes a lot of distress, and you can't get rid of it," said Mulcahy. "Then the compulsion is anything that you do to get rid of ... and diminish the anxiety. It could be physical or mental."

"Sometimes I feel sorry for myself and think, why do I have it," Horton said. "But maybe it makes me more empathetic toward others.

"It's absolute hell on earth," she said. "My dream is to be at peace and not having to be so vigilant every minute, awaiting the next germ or bug I might come upon. I'd like to relax and get into life and enjoy my children."

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