David Beckham health: ‘I can’t stop’ Star on his battle with OCD – recommended treatments

Victoria and David Beckham share tips at Jubilee lunch

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The sporting star, who in the past has met with Prince William in order to help create a “mentally healthy culture” in sport, spoke about the toughest year for his mental health. He revealed that by looking back on his career, it was the moment that he was sent off during a World Cup match against Argentina in 1998 that was the most difficult to handle. He shared: “’98 was by far the toughest. When I look back on it now, I didn’t realise how hard it was but I just remember the times where I faced adversity throughout my career.” In addition to hardship playing sport, Beckham has also shared his battle with OCD which affects numerous parts of his life.

In a throwback interview, the current president and co-owner of Inter Miami FC admitted that he becomes obsessive about counting cans of fizzy drink that he keeps in the fridge.

Talking about his obsessions and compulsions, the 47-year-old said: “I have got this disorder where I have to have everything in a straight line or everything has to be in pairs.

“I’ll put my Pepsi cans in the fridge and if there’s one too many then I’ll put it in another cupboard somewhere. I’ll go into a hotel room and before I can relax, I have to move all the leaflets and all the books and put them in a drawer.”

Even his wife of 23 years Victoria Beckham has commented about her husband’s behaviour. She added: “He’s got that obsessive-compulsive thing where everything has to match. If you open our fridge, it’s all coordinated down either side.

“We’ve got three fridges — food in one, salad in another and drinks in the third. In the drinks one, everything is symmetrical. If there’s three cans, he’ll throw one away because it has to be an even number.”

In fact the extent of the star’s problem also extends to his habit of getting tattoos. With nearly every inch of his body covered already, the sportsman said that it is his addiction to the pain of the needle that keeps him going back.

“I’ve got that problem,” he added before going on to explain that he has already tried to rid himself of the condition. “I would like to. I’ve tried and I can’t stop.”

However, throughout the years, Beckham has been able to find his own ways of managing his OCD and any other potential dark moments of mental health. Back in 2018 he shared that his four children have had a huge positive impact on him, specifically one popular children’s toy that helps to calm him down.

“It’s the little things that can have a really big impact. Like walking the kids to school or the park. It just takes one change,” he shared.

“When the kids finish school, they might have different activities going on, like football or rugby.

“But when they get home we’ll often play one of their favourite games, like Connect 4. They also love LEGO. So do I. The last big thing I made was Tower Bridge. It was amazing. I think LEGO sometimes helps to calm me down.”

The NHS explains that OCD is a common mental health condition that usually starts during early adulthood. A number of different factors can play a role in its onset including a family history, differences in the brain and life events.

For example, research suggests that some individuals with OCD seem to have areas of unusually high activity in their brain or low levels of a chemical known as serotonin. This appears to play a role in mood, emotions, appetite, and digestion.

The term OCD is sometimes used interchangeably to describe someone who is classed as a perfectionist. FHE Health notes that being a perfectionist isn’t a clinically diagnosable condition but both conditions are similar in many ways: they both cause anxiety when certain things aren’t done the right way, and both are rooted in a sense of needing to be in control.

Interestingly, one study focusing on university students found that 5.2 percent of students who are athletes could be struggling with the condition.

When trying to explain these findings it was concluded that it takes a certain type of person to thrive in the competitive atmosphere of playing sports at the highest level. Those with the drive and motivation to succeed in sports often have stronger, more authoritative personalities.

General symptoms that may indicate you or someone you know is experiencing OCD includes:

  • Obsessions – an unwanted and unpleasant thought, image or urge that repeatedly enters your mind, causing feelings of anxiety, disgust or unease.
  • Compulsions – a repetitive behaviour or mental act that you feel you need to do to temporarily relieve the unpleasant feelings brought on by the obsessive thought.

However, contrary to Beckham’s claim, there are treatments and support therapies that work to help people manage their OCD symptoms. In fact, there are two main ways to get help, either refer yourself directly to a psychological therapies service or make an appointment to see a GP.

Both of these ways may lead to individuals being recommended psychological therapy, most commonly cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Through regular sessions either as part of a group or on a one-to-one basis, individuals can notice a positive effect rather quickly.

Alternatively, medication such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), work to alter the balance of chemicals in the brain and hopefully stop the urge to carry out a compulsion. Some people find that a combination of both of these methods work best.

For help and support for OCD, contact UK-based charity OCD-UK on 01332 588112.

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