OCD, Friends, Family and Carers

OCD, the family disorder

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is often called a ‘family illness’, with the condition regularly impacting both the individual, and those people closest to them. It is important that no matter how extreme, or chronic the condition is extremely treatable. Often we hear stories of how frustrated the people around the sufferer become, but please remember that OCD is a chronic illness, and the person that is currently experiencing OCD are acting from fear and emotional suffering. Those closest to the individual can play a vital role in the recovery process, and although times can be tough, the likelihood of the person overcoming their OCD tendencies are much more likely with the necessary support the people around them. It’s no secret that OCD puts a strain on an individual’s personal relationships when in the grips of OCD. It can be a frustrating, exhausting and sometimes confusing experience for everyone involved. It is likely that without the right help, carers and family members will be unable of the best ways to help their loved one, which often adds to the frustration and feelings of helplessness, resentment and anger for all parties involved.

It can be a particularly difficult time when children are the ones suffering. It’s natural for parents to want to make their child feel better, and reassurance can often seem like the quickest and most effective way to do this, however this is likely to be feeding the OCD and potentially even exasperating the symptoms. Love, support and kindness can all offer a great platform for the child, as well as reminding them that they are not alone, and that the condition is very treatable. At the OCD Treatment Centre, we believe that knowledge is power. As part of our program we’ll teach you everything you need to know about OCD to put you in the best possible position to conquer your OCD fears. In our experience, having a loved one or family member around can be a great asset, as they can also take in a lot of the information. This is by no means a necessity, but on occasions this can indeed be helpful.


Advice for Family, Friends and carers

We understand that OCD is a family condition, and so we feel that it is particularly important to look after your own emotional wellbeing too. When caring for someone that has OCD, one of the most important things to do can be to learn as much as you can about the condition, as to be able to offer support in the best possible way. Furthermore, be aware of your own responses to the OCD. Are you feeling stressed yourself, more irritable or even depressed? Ensure that you take care of yourself, take time out and make sure that you still do things that you enjoy. Often catching the ‘signs early’ can aid the recovery process of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, especially in children. If you feel that your child, or someone you know may be suffering from OCD, then simply go to the heading, ‘understanding OCD’ on our website, and take the test!


What to do when the person refuses that they have OCD or don’t want to seek treatment

It is natural that a person with OCD doesn’t want to admit to having the condition. Not only is there still as certain level of taboo with suffering from the condition, but our clients often say that they fear for their jobs, reputation or what other will think of them. This action may cause the people around them even more frustration and distress. Here are a few ideas which may help:


  • Show them that they are not alone, look through the testimonials page on our website or other peoples stories over the internet of success, show them that others have suffered, and come out the other side
  • Email us for an information pack, we can provide you with accurate, clear and hopeful information that may make your friend or family member more hopeful
  • Get in touch with a reputable OCD charity. Join OCD Action ‘here’

Everyone is different. Some people may require more time, and make the journey to recovery in their own time. Others may need that push in the right direction and encouragement. It is likely that you know your loved one as good as, if not better than anyone. What do you think would be the best approach to take with them? What we do know is this: OCD doesn’t just go away on its own. At some point it is likely that anyone with OCD will need to seek help at some point, to overcome the condition. One of the fundamental mistakes that carers make is to collude with their loved ones OCD. Like we said earlier, why would you not want to comfort the person you care about, however, by offering reassurance and colluding with OCD this can make the condition and it’s symptoms significantly worse. Below are a few ways family or friend collusion takes place:


  • Offering reassurance (examples could include, “yes you did lock the door”, or “no, you are not a bad person”)
  • Offering assistance to help wash their hands
  • Refraining from breaking or interrupting loved ones routines
  • Conducting the whole ritual for the person
  • Assisting in avoidance of certain places
  • Living your own life as if you have OCD

It is important to recognise that having OCD is no one’s fault. Many people want someone or something to blame, but the most important thing is to concentrate on the here and now, the solution. Adults as well as children can find it helpful to name their OCD as a bully, shifting a lot of their anger or annoyance of the condition towards the OCD itself. Humour can also be a valuable asset in approaching treatment of OCD. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can make everything feel scary, when often humour, if used correctively can slightly relieve the seriousness of the symptoms. Remember that if a loved one opens up to you, it is extremely important not to judge. No matter how disturbing or shocking the person’s thoughts and fears are, it’s just their OCD fears and intrusive thoughts taking. Be sure to be supportive, accepting and non- judgemental.


Why bring a family member or friend to your program?

Although it’s not always suitable, we do fully cater for clients that want to bring a family member or friend. Often bringing a loved one can aid the recovery process, and although by no means a necessity, it can be helpful. We don’t just work with OCD sufferer’s, we have also worked closely with family members and friends in both one to one intensive’s and in a group setting. Check out the next date of our ‘family group intensive’ on our home page.