Helping Someone With OCD

ocd

  • Encourage sufferers to seek help: the earlier they receive it, the better their chances of recovery.
  • Watch out for warning signs: e.g. seeking reassurance, doing things over and over, irritability/indecisiveness, extreme reactions to minor things, spending a long time doing activities/being late, taking longer than usual over small tasks.
  • If they’ve been prescribed medication, encourage them to keep taking it.
  • Don’t support them in their rituals (e.g; washing towels or keeping things in a certain order). It’s natural to want to help, but this only reinforces their behaviour. It also protects them from its negative effects and may discourage them from seeking treatment.
  • Don’t get into long debates or discussions, (part of challenging OCD is coping with uncertainty).
  • Be calm and accepting – disturbing thoughts or impulses can be part of the condition and they need to know that you are not judging them.
  • Encourage sufferers to challenge their behaviours and remind them that they’re not “weird” or alone BUT
  • Don’t provide reassurance about specific obsessions. E.g. If they keep asking “Are you sure I turned the oven off?”, don’t keep saying, “Yes, remember, we were in the kitchen and you said…” It’s very tempting but, don’t engage on the details, that would only confirm their misplaced emphases and stop them facing their fears. The goal is to help sufferers to sit with their anxiety and allow it to pass; not to rely on you to manage it for them.
  • Try to keep life as normal as possible. For example, containing routines to one room rather than the whole house. Don’t let OCD dominate your conversations and set limits on discussions about specific worries.
  • Celebrate little changes: e.g: checking locked doors four times instead of five. These might seem small, but to the sufferer they are big and your encouragement is a powerful motivator.
  • Get mad at the OCD, not the sufferer. You’re on the same team – and these are symptoms of the disorder, not personality traits.
  • Be as patient and positive as you can. Criticism only increases their anxiety and telling someone to get better doesn’t help. Try to put yourself in their shoes: they don’t want to do these compulsions but feel they have to. They’re not trying to cause conflict; in fact they may be trying to keep you from harm.
  • Try to keep a sense of humour.
  • Remember how you overcome OCD… Falling in love. Invite them into the gospel’s love story – this is what takes us out of ourselves.

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