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How to Support Someone with OCD

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, is a mental health condition that can be extremely controlling and challenging. Many people are familiar with the idea of OCD and possibly even have a symptom or two. 

OCD may seem like an infrequent occurrence, but it’s more common than you might think.

You hear about someone having OCD, but might never think about it affecting someone you know or love. When you see someone suffering from OCD, it’s an automatic and normal response to want to jump in and help them. But what if you don’t know how to do so?

Here are some ways you can support someone with OCD.

Educate Yourself

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OCD is a relatively well-known disorder, but there are still many misconceptions about the disorder as a whole. The first step you can take in supporting someone is to educate yourself as much as possible.

There isn’t one specific cause of OCD, nor do symptoms manifest in the same way for everyone. There are two main parts to OCD, obsessions and compulsions.

Common obsessions that are reported include counting, hand washing or cleanliness, symmetry, and order. It’s also common to question actions, like whether or not the garage door was closed, the coffee pot was turned off, or the curling iron was unplugged.

Compulsions are a way to calm the intrusive thoughts and ease the obsessions. Common compulsions include double and triple-checking actions, repetition of actions, and maintaining excessive organization.

Ask Them Specific Questions

As you gain a better understanding of what OCD is and what it can look like, feel free to engage in conversation about it. If you notice something about their OCD, ask them if they would like to talk about it. There’s no better way to understand what someone is experiencing than to listen to what they say.

When you start talking about their specific symptoms and struggles, you’ll have more knowledge and resources to handle situations in the future. The next time you see an obsession or compulsion, you will be better equipped to help them through it, especially if it’s a struggle they have confided in you.

Don’t Try to Fix Them

It’s important to note that someone with OCD isn’t broken or abnormal. Everyone experiences stressors, struggles, and barriers in their daily life. They are a person who is trying to conquer their daily challenges in the best way they can.

It’s good to note that when the person you know is dealing with OCD challenges, it isn’t your responsibility to fix them. Your role in supporting this person is to assist with coping strategies and encourage healthy solutions and diversions.

Places to start would be mindfulness exercises, physical exercise, and outdoor activity. Physical exercise can be truly helpful in alleviating some of the stress and anxiety plus provide a natural hormone boost. As the body moves, endorphins are released and can evoke a sense of calm and happiness.

Aide in Distraction When Needed

Now that you’re aware of certain signs to watch out for, if you notice someone with OCD becoming stressed, you can support them by diverting their attention. Suggest activities you can do together that will distract them from their OCD.

Watch a TV show, go to a movie, grab a coffee, or play a card game. Your options are endless. It may be a bumpy road at first, but distraction is a great tool for overcoming obsessions and compulsions.

Suggest Professional Help

When it comes to professional help, there is still a stigma in some instances. Many people are uncomfortable with the idea of going to therapy, especially for something like OCD. This can get in the way of the benefits treatment can provide.

There is no shame in admitting you need help when you’re struggling with any mental health condition. Encourage them to explore professional help and any resources available. If someone you know is struggling, contact us for more information about OCD therapy.

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