How to Help Someone With OCD?

It can be difficult to live with a family member or a friend who’s experiencing the symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, or OCD. It’s important to understand how we can help a loved one deal with their OCD and other information that may be useful.

When you’re helping someone with OCD, relying on reassurances won’t get you far. The mindset of a person with OCD can vary, a feeling that can cause them intense stress and trauma. One of the best ways to help a person with OCD is to guide them toward meeting a specialist. Other than that, you must be patient and be non-judgmental towards them and their habits.

Keep reading and we’ll go into the intricacies of OCD and what you can do to help your loved ones experiencing OCD deal with the compulsions. We’ll also go through potential treatments and therapeutic methods that might be useful for the patient.

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How to Help Someone With OCD?

There are many ways to help a person that’s affected with OCD. However, it’s also important to keep in mind that what we see them do and what we think they feel can be vastly different from reality. Relying on methods like relating to their disorder may end up causing them to feel alienated rather than accepted.

Understanding The Disorder

First, try and read up on resources regarding OCD. Although the disorder itself is decently common, especially among teens and children, there are a lot of misunderstandings about the finer aspects of the disorder. By learning more about OCD, you’re contributing to the further destigmatization of OCD. It can also help you to further understand your friend or loved one that’s currently experiencing this disorder.

Learning Their OCD Triggers

Next, you should try and learn what exactly are their OCD triggers. When looking into the OCD cycle, most experts find those distressing thoughts are caused by what’s known as triggers. These are environmental experiences that may cause the patient to increase a heightened sense of OCD symptoms.

Some examples of triggers include sources of stress like work, family matters, education, or other responsibilities. Stress itself is a normal part of life but experiencing it for longer than normal can be damaging to one’s mental health and cause symptoms of OCD. Another example is the presence of large life changes such as feelings of anxiety during puberty or mounting pressure to perform in a new position.

Encourage Them To Seek Therapy

Most importantly, you should do your best to encourage them in seeking treatment for their symptoms. The road to recovery is paved with hardships so support groups from friends and family members can be crucial to the healing process. Mild OCD only requires a short string of therapy sessions while more serious cases may require the use of medications to supplement the results of psychological therapy.

There are other supplementary treatments available should the traditional methods not be effective. According to the International OCD Foundation, they found that Teletherapy might be a good option for those who need constant consultations with their therapists. Another method is through Acceptance and Commitment Therapy which involves the patients accepting their emotions and channeling them through proper responses.

What Is OCD?

It’s important to understand what exactly OCD is before you can effectively help someone deal with it. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, is a disorder that can be found in a wide range of patients. They may be trying to cope with sets of obsessions and compulsions, all potentially distressing to the person affected.

Obsessions, in this case, can be described as disturbing and perilous thoughts that frequently come to mind. Some examples of these obtrusive thoughts include:

  • Intense Fear of Germs and Bacteria
  • Explicit scenes of violence
  • An urge for orderliness above all
  • Excessive focus on concepts, including religions or ideals
  • An intense belief in superstitions

Compulsions, on the other hand, are described as repeated behaviors that the person affected by OCD feels must be done. This is usually in response to the object of their obsession. Some common examples of compulsions include:

  • Constantly cleaning and ordering household items
  • Seeking approval from others repetitively
  • Excessive prayer or rituals done because of fears born through their ideals or beliefs
  • Repetition of words, excessive counting, and other stimulating behaviors to counter feelings of anxiety

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Are There Effective Treatments For Someone With OCD?

Currently, mental health professionals make use of a combination of psychological therapy and medications to curb the symptoms of OCD.

Psychological Therapy

Psychological therapy, or Psychotherapy, involves the use of talking and communication to explore and understand various mental illnesses. It also helps by giving patients a means of controlling the symptoms they experience as well as giving them a better sense of self-confidence.

One popular psychotherapeutic approach is Cognitive Behavior Therapy or CBT. This approach has the therapist work with the patient as they break down the problem and try to get to its source. After that, the therapist will invite them to face their sources of anxiety and obsessive thoughts without resorting to their habits. Slowly, the patient may start to experience less anxiety with every session.

Exposure and Response Prevention, or ERP, is a form of Cognitive Behavior Therapy that has been found to be most effective with OCD patients. Here, the patient will visit their therapist a few times per week. Once the session is underway, they’ll be exposed to triggers while under the guidance of their therapist. This allows the patient to gain insights into the cause of their OCD, a good step in figuring out how to control it.

Medications for OCD

For more serious cases of OCD, the therapist may prescribe them specific medications to help curb their emotions. The most effective type of drug for OCD patients is called “antidepressants”. Also known as Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors or SRIs, they help treat signs of anxiety and depression by increasing serotonin in the brain and blocking their reabsorption into the neurons.

Of course, there are certain precautions that need to be taken care of before using any type of medication. Pregnant Women, Elderly patients, and Patients with a history of cardiac problems should consult with their physicians first.

Another precaution to take note of is the potential side effects that these drugs may cause. Some patients experience bouts of agitation, nausea, insomnia, headaches, and anxiousness during the first few weeks. They may even experience low libido, and weight loss/gain depending on how it affects their appetite.

Finally, and most importantly, any patients taking SSRIs that are under 25 may find themselves experiencing thoughts of suicidal ideation during the first few weeks. During this time, they are still acclimating to the effects of the SSRI and may feel depressed. If your friend or loved one is taking antidepressants and is expressing suicidal thoughts, please contact emergency services.

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Are There Therapists Specialized In Dealing With OCD?

Although therapists are trained to help deal with a wide range of mental disorders, some are not trained to perform CBT methods. Physicians and Healthcare Providers have a good chance of helping you locate a therapist, psychiatrist, or psychologist that are specialized in handling OCD cases. If your local area has an OCD support group nearby, then you can ask their staff for assistance in this matter.

Should you be unable to attend face-to-face appointments, you could always opt for virtual treatment sessions. Through the use of your mobile phone and a reliable internet connection, you can meet up with an online therapist that’s trained for OCD cases.

Don’t be afraid to tell your therapist if there’s anything about their approach that makes you uncomfortable. Usually, it takes up to 3 or 4 sessions for a patient to know if their therapist will be good for them. However, you could always take the initiative and tell them if there is something that they could be doing better or if you’re interested in alternative approaches to treating your OCD symptoms.

Final Thoughts

OCD is a complex disorder that makes it so that patients are filled with doubts and distress from everyday occurrences and stimuli. If you’re a friend or family member of someone suffering from OCD, your support will be paramount in helping them overcome it. Make sure to encourage them to seek treatment and be understanding of their circumstances.

Patients may be prescribed medications or subjected to psychological therapy to help them control their symptoms. Through the guidance of their therapist, they can slowly get over the feelings of anxiety and distress caused by their triggers. Helping them understand potential treatment options and supporting them throughout their journey can help bring them closer to a sense of normalcy.

Mental illnesses like OCD are slowly becoming more understood by the public at large. By educating yourself on the illness and helping spread true information about it to others, you’re helping continue the efforts to destigmatize OCD and other mental health problems. Everyone deserves a chance at a good life, something that therapy and close support can provide.

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Dave P
Dave P
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