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How to Help a Family Member with OCD

The way you react to a loved one’s OCD symptoms can have a big impact.

  • Negative comments or criticism can make OCD worse, while a calm, supportive environment can help improve the outcome of treatment. Focus on the sufferer’s positive qualities and avoid making personal criticisms.
  • Don’t scold someone with OCD or tell the person to stop performing rituals. They can’t comply, and the pressure to stop will only make the behaviors worse. Remember, your loved one’s OCD behaviors are symptoms, not character flaws.
  • Be as kind and patient as possible. Each sufferer needs to overcome problems at their own pace. Praise any successful attempt to resist OCD, and focus attention on positive elements in the person’s life.
  • Do not play along with your loved one’s OCD rituals. Helping the sufferer with rituals will only reinforce the behavior. Support the person, not their rituals.
  • Create a pact to not allow OCD to take over family life. Sit down as a family and decide how you will work together to tackle your loved one’s OCD symptoms. Try to keep family life as normal as possible and the home a low-stress environment.
  • Communicate positively, directly and clearly. Communication is important so you can find a balance between standing up to the OCD and not further distressing your loved one.
  • Find the humor. Seeing the humor and absurdity in some OCD symptoms can help the sufferer become more detached from the disorder. Of course, a situation is only humorous if the sufferer finds it funny, too.