Fortyfive-year-old Atlanta resident Ethan Smith is on a mission to help others who, like him, are living with obessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). For the 3 million Americans who have OCD, many can spend countless hours and days agonizing in a cycle of obsessions and compulsions, involving unwanted and intrusive thoughts or urges that trigger intensely distressing feelings. Compulsions are the behaviors patients engage in to alleviate these obsessions and reduce distress.
Struggling with OCD since an early age, it wasn’t until Ethan received evidence-based treatment as a young man in 2010 that he was able to manage symptoms. After years of intensive inpatient and outpatient therapy, Ethan discovered himself for the first time and began to live a proactive, happy and healthy life.
“It’s difficult for those who meet me now to fully grasp the depth of my OCD battle, especially as I’m now able to manage symptoms,” Ethan says. “Growing up with OCD, intrusive thoughts wreaked havoc on my daily life. Mundane incidents, like gently bumping my head on the car headrest, would trigger explosive reactions. Although I was able to work in my field as an actor, by the time I reached 32, I was confined to my bed, consumed by fear, unable to eat or drink, barely holding on.”
Since those days of finally getting the treatment he needs, Ethan has devoted himself to reducing the stigma surrounding OCD and mental health. This includes serving as a national advocate on behalf of the International OCD Foundation and work on related projects, including a recent commercial he directed which resulted in a prestigious, industry-related award.
"I take great pride in this award-winning commercial," Ethan asserts. "It's more than just a personal achievement; it serves as a vital tool to raise awareness about OCD. Frequently, OCD is trivialized in entertainment, presenting it as a quirky mental health issue. The truth is far more serious, and this project has the potential to educate the public about the reality of OCD. Additionally, it provides valuable information about an ongoing clinical trial, reaching out to those who might be experiencing similar challenges."
The commercial, which runs for 30 seconds, offers an unflinchingly honest portrayal of the devastating reality behind OCD, a widely misunderstood anxiety disorder. In addition, viewers can learn about an important clinical trial, which is researching a potential treatment, and if approved, could be the first treatment for OCD in more than 20 years.
Ethan emphasizes, “For those suspecting they have OCD, it’s imperative to know that help is available and that they are not alone.” He encourages people to visit the OCD clinical trial website to learn more about the disorder and to seek help from a healthcare professional.