Learning how to help a family member with OCD cope with their condition can indeed be challenging. As with any other type of mental health disorder, it is hard to commiserate when you don’t have the same experiences as does the other person. Nonetheless, putting even a bit of effort into supporting them can make a huge difference.
Here are a few tips to guide you in helping a family member with OCD navigate the challenges, fears, and struggles associated with the condition itself and managing thereof.
Get a better understanding of OCD.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common psychiatric disorder characterized by a pattern of obsessions (or unwelcome thoughts, doubts, and fears) resulting in compulsions (repetitive behaviors done to ease anxiety). Such intrusive thought patterns and accompanying compulsions can significantly interfere with a person’s day-to-day activities and put a strain on their relationships with the people around them.
The media often depicts people living with OCD as being obsessed with cleanliness and order. However, in reality, OCD is much more complex than this. Only a psychiatrist or licensed mental health professional can provide a credible and accurate diagnosis of the condition.
You can do your due diligence by researching the condition and joining foundations. Getting a better insight into OCD helps shatter misconceptions and reduce the stigma surrounding the condition.
Talk with your family member and recognize their signals.
OCD usually develops gradually. It can start from childhood, but it usually begins in the adolescent years. Mild to moderate symptoms may also appear. However, its severity may change throughout a person’s lifetime. Symptoms often worsen if people with OCD are criticized, belittled, or invalidated. Rather than doing any of these, ask them how and when their symptoms manifest.
It helps to talk to your other family members about the person’s obsessions and compulsions. Being familiar with these makes you better understand the person and compassionately respond to them, especially at the height of their flare-ups.
Help them access quality treatment.
There are various treatment options for OCD. Encourage your family member to seek medical intervention. Help them in finding a licensed and well-trained mental health professional. Also, support them in taking their prescribed medications or regularly remind them to attend their one-on-one therapy sessions with their psychiatrist.
You can also suggest to your family member about joining support groups. Studies have established the benefits of group therapy in the treatment of OCD and related disorders. People with the same diagnosis will serve as a wonderful base for your family member. This will put them at ease, knowing that there are people—apart from their family members—whom they can ask questions about their condition—without the fear of prejudice.
Ultimately, it’s helpful to be patient and understanding. Remember, OCD can very much control the life of your loved one, and it is not a personality trait, preference, or character flaw.
Keep in mind that the experiences of people with OCD vary with each person. Therefore, avoid comparing their experiences to others. Instead, acknowledge their day-to-day improvements, no matter how small. Allow them to recover at their own pace and time.
OCD Treatment in New York and Connecticut
Dealing with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) can be very challenging. If you or anyone in your family has it, both genuine support and psychiatric intervention are of paramount importance.
At Psy-Visions, our very own Dr. Mark Stracks provides comprehensive evaluation and treatment for the full range of mental health disorders, including OCD.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Stracks, call our New York, NY City office at (718) 887-2918 or our Southbury, CT office (203) 405-1745. We also offer telepsychiatry services to reduce the number of in-office visits—which is highly imperative during the pandemic.