How Can I Support a Loved One or Friend Who Has Obsessive-compulsive Disorder?

Reviewed Nov 10, 2017

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Summary

  • Learn as much as you can about OCD.
  • Do not try to help by taking part in daily rituals.
  • Praise improvements and downplay setbacks.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) tends to run in families. There is about a one-in-four chance of getting OCD if a parent or sibling already has it. However, even if only one family member has the disorder, the whole family is affected. This is because OCD can be very time consuming and disruptive to one’s daily lifestyle. This in turn may cause the entire family to feel anxious and frustrated.

Become informed

It is important for everyone involved to learn as much as they can about OCD. This is true for the person with OCD, as well as friends and loved ones. A person with the disorder may very well know his fears and rituals are irrational. His inability to make them stop, however, leaves him feeling frustrated and ashamed. What he needs is your acceptance and support, rather than judgment.

OCD is not the result of a character defect or bad parenting. Therefore, a person with OCD should not blame himself or his parents. Neither should those closest to him try to place blame or guilt on him. Instead, rally behind the person and let him know you are there to help.

How to help

Watching a friend or loved one go through obsessions and compulsions can be difficult. You may be tempted to try to help her by taking part in her daily rituals. This might help things run more smoothly in the short-term. In the long-term, however, this is simply feeding and prolonging her obsessive-compulsive behavior.

Research the disorder and go over the information with her. Talk to her about ways you can be supportive without further enabling her disorder. Involve the entire family or a small group of close friends in the discussion. Make sure it is presented in a well-meaning, non-accusing manner. Allow her to make and agree to decisions she is comfortable with.

Whatever is decided, try to go about changes slowly. A person with OCD will already be stressed and fearful. Adding further anxiety by trying to change too much too soon will only make matters worse. Focus on making small steps forward. Be patient and keep a positive attitude.

Help the person to get help

OCD does not go away on its own. Talking about it can be helpful, but it will not make the symptoms disappear. A person with OCD needs professional help. He may be reluctant to reach out for help by himself, however. As a friend or loved one, you can assist him in getting the help he needs. Encourage him to call his doctor or offer to make the call with him. Attend the appointment with him. Then plan to be there for follow-up appointments and support group meetings. Make sure he is being cared for by a doctor or licensed health care worker familiar with OCD.

Once he is in treatment, encourage him to follow through with the recovery options he has chosen. Be patient with his progress. Praise his improvements and downplay any setbacks. Let him know that you are with him through the entire healing process.

Get help for yourself

Living with OCD can be very draining on everyone. If you are caring for a loved one with the disorder, make sure other family members help out. If you are helping a friend with OCD, try to get other friends involved as well. Do not carry the burden alone. Reach out to a support group. Finally, do not neglect your own health. Take care of yourself by eating healthily and getting proper rest and exercise.

Resources

Mental Health Recovery/ WRAP®: Wellness Recovery Action Plan
www.mentalhealthrecovery.com/about/overview.php

National Alliance on Mental Illness, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Fact Sheet
www.nami.org/NAMI/media/NAMI-Media/Images/FactSheets/OCD-FS.pdf

By Kevin Rizzo
Source: Better Health Channel/State Government of Victoria (Australia), www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-family-and-friends?viewAsPdf=true, NHS Choices/ Department of Health (UK), www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Obsessive-compulsive-disorder/Pages/Familyfriends.aspx; National Alliance on Mental Illness, www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Obsessive-Compulsive-Disorder; National Institute of Mental Health, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/index.shtml
Reviewed by Paulo Correa, MD, Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • Learn as much as you can about OCD.
  • Do not try to help by taking part in daily rituals.
  • Praise improvements and downplay setbacks.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) tends to run in families. There is about a one-in-four chance of getting OCD if a parent or sibling already has it. However, even if only one family member has the disorder, the whole family is affected. This is because OCD can be very time consuming and disruptive to one’s daily lifestyle. This in turn may cause the entire family to feel anxious and frustrated.

Become informed

It is important for everyone involved to learn as much as they can about OCD. This is true for the person with OCD, as well as friends and loved ones. A person with the disorder may very well know his fears and rituals are irrational. His inability to make them stop, however, leaves him feeling frustrated and ashamed. What he needs is your acceptance and support, rather than judgment.

OCD is not the result of a character defect or bad parenting. Therefore, a person with OCD should not blame himself or his parents. Neither should those closest to him try to place blame or guilt on him. Instead, rally behind the person and let him know you are there to help.

How to help

Watching a friend or loved one go through obsessions and compulsions can be difficult. You may be tempted to try to help her by taking part in her daily rituals. This might help things run more smoothly in the short-term. In the long-term, however, this is simply feeding and prolonging her obsessive-compulsive behavior.

Research the disorder and go over the information with her. Talk to her about ways you can be supportive without further enabling her disorder. Involve the entire family or a small group of close friends in the discussion. Make sure it is presented in a well-meaning, non-accusing manner. Allow her to make and agree to decisions she is comfortable with.

Whatever is decided, try to go about changes slowly. A person with OCD will already be stressed and fearful. Adding further anxiety by trying to change too much too soon will only make matters worse. Focus on making small steps forward. Be patient and keep a positive attitude.

Help the person to get help

OCD does not go away on its own. Talking about it can be helpful, but it will not make the symptoms disappear. A person with OCD needs professional help. He may be reluctant to reach out for help by himself, however. As a friend or loved one, you can assist him in getting the help he needs. Encourage him to call his doctor or offer to make the call with him. Attend the appointment with him. Then plan to be there for follow-up appointments and support group meetings. Make sure he is being cared for by a doctor or licensed health care worker familiar with OCD.

Once he is in treatment, encourage him to follow through with the recovery options he has chosen. Be patient with his progress. Praise his improvements and downplay any setbacks. Let him know that you are with him through the entire healing process.

Get help for yourself

Living with OCD can be very draining on everyone. If you are caring for a loved one with the disorder, make sure other family members help out. If you are helping a friend with OCD, try to get other friends involved as well. Do not carry the burden alone. Reach out to a support group. Finally, do not neglect your own health. Take care of yourself by eating healthily and getting proper rest and exercise.

Resources

Mental Health Recovery/ WRAP®: Wellness Recovery Action Plan
www.mentalhealthrecovery.com/about/overview.php

National Alliance on Mental Illness, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Fact Sheet
www.nami.org/NAMI/media/NAMI-Media/Images/FactSheets/OCD-FS.pdf

By Kevin Rizzo
Source: Better Health Channel/State Government of Victoria (Australia), www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-family-and-friends?viewAsPdf=true, NHS Choices/ Department of Health (UK), www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Obsessive-compulsive-disorder/Pages/Familyfriends.aspx; National Alliance on Mental Illness, www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Obsessive-Compulsive-Disorder; National Institute of Mental Health, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/index.shtml
Reviewed by Paulo Correa, MD, Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • Learn as much as you can about OCD.
  • Do not try to help by taking part in daily rituals.
  • Praise improvements and downplay setbacks.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) tends to run in families. There is about a one-in-four chance of getting OCD if a parent or sibling already has it. However, even if only one family member has the disorder, the whole family is affected. This is because OCD can be very time consuming and disruptive to one’s daily lifestyle. This in turn may cause the entire family to feel anxious and frustrated.

Become informed

It is important for everyone involved to learn as much as they can about OCD. This is true for the person with OCD, as well as friends and loved ones. A person with the disorder may very well know his fears and rituals are irrational. His inability to make them stop, however, leaves him feeling frustrated and ashamed. What he needs is your acceptance and support, rather than judgment.

OCD is not the result of a character defect or bad parenting. Therefore, a person with OCD should not blame himself or his parents. Neither should those closest to him try to place blame or guilt on him. Instead, rally behind the person and let him know you are there to help.

How to help

Watching a friend or loved one go through obsessions and compulsions can be difficult. You may be tempted to try to help her by taking part in her daily rituals. This might help things run more smoothly in the short-term. In the long-term, however, this is simply feeding and prolonging her obsessive-compulsive behavior.

Research the disorder and go over the information with her. Talk to her about ways you can be supportive without further enabling her disorder. Involve the entire family or a small group of close friends in the discussion. Make sure it is presented in a well-meaning, non-accusing manner. Allow her to make and agree to decisions she is comfortable with.

Whatever is decided, try to go about changes slowly. A person with OCD will already be stressed and fearful. Adding further anxiety by trying to change too much too soon will only make matters worse. Focus on making small steps forward. Be patient and keep a positive attitude.

Help the person to get help

OCD does not go away on its own. Talking about it can be helpful, but it will not make the symptoms disappear. A person with OCD needs professional help. He may be reluctant to reach out for help by himself, however. As a friend or loved one, you can assist him in getting the help he needs. Encourage him to call his doctor or offer to make the call with him. Attend the appointment with him. Then plan to be there for follow-up appointments and support group meetings. Make sure he is being cared for by a doctor or licensed health care worker familiar with OCD.

Once he is in treatment, encourage him to follow through with the recovery options he has chosen. Be patient with his progress. Praise his improvements and downplay any setbacks. Let him know that you are with him through the entire healing process.

Get help for yourself

Living with OCD can be very draining on everyone. If you are caring for a loved one with the disorder, make sure other family members help out. If you are helping a friend with OCD, try to get other friends involved as well. Do not carry the burden alone. Reach out to a support group. Finally, do not neglect your own health. Take care of yourself by eating healthily and getting proper rest and exercise.

Resources

Mental Health Recovery/ WRAP®: Wellness Recovery Action Plan
www.mentalhealthrecovery.com/about/overview.php

National Alliance on Mental Illness, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Fact Sheet
www.nami.org/NAMI/media/NAMI-Media/Images/FactSheets/OCD-FS.pdf

By Kevin Rizzo
Source: Better Health Channel/State Government of Victoria (Australia), www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-family-and-friends?viewAsPdf=true, NHS Choices/ Department of Health (UK), www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Obsessive-compulsive-disorder/Pages/Familyfriends.aspx; National Alliance on Mental Illness, www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Obsessive-Compulsive-Disorder; National Institute of Mental Health, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/index.shtml
Reviewed by Paulo Correa, MD, Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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