If a child, parent, or friend of yours was recently diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, you might be looking for a way to support and better understand their situation. OCD is a very serious mental health condition; but for many having support from loved ones can be a critical component of the recovery journey.
Here are some tips to help you better support someone in your life who has OCD.
Educate yourself on OCD
There are many websites that offer information on OCD and the different ways the disorder manifests. A place to start for more information is the International OCD Foundation’s (IOCDF) website. Following different accounts or hashtags on social media can also be another way to learn more about how people manage their OCD. You can follow OCDPeers on Instagram and Facebook! In addition, “Don’t Think of a Pink Elephant” is an award-winning short animation film that shows a teenage girl’s experience with intrusive thoughts around harm.
Join a support group
OCDPeers offers support groups specifically for loved ones to speak with others who are going through a similar experience. Join a group today if you’re looking to connect and learn more about OCD!
Avoid participating in reassurance seeking
Reassurance seeking is a compulsion that folks with OCD experience to try to “help” alleviate anxiety around their intrusive thoughts. You may see your loved one suffering but it is very important not to engage with the reassurance seeking. Instead, offer your support by being present if they are experiencing symptoms.
Support their unique recovery journey
If your loved one has OCD, the ultimate goal is to support their path to recovery. There is no perfect plan for managing symptoms, and there can often be set backs or “flare ups”. Try not to cast comparisons to previous days or other people. It can also be helpful to recognize the wins when your loved one limits or refrains from a compulsion.
Help destigmatize mental health disorders
If you hear someone using harmful stereotypes around mental health try to speak up against those instances. For example, you might hear someone say, “Omg I am so OCD about cleaning.” Phrases like these make limiting assumptions about sufferers of obsessive-compulsive disorder. This could be a chance to remind others that OCD is not an adjective but rather a serious mental health disorder that affects millions of individuals.