I know first hand how difficult it can be to be a caregiver of someone struggling with OCD. However, I also know how inspiring it can be to watch my child get the proper help and be able to now live a meaningful life managing her OCD. As a caregiver for someone with OCD we want to help our loved one’s the best we know how. Sometimes however we may enable versus help. It is so important for you to understand what OCD is, what CBT is and the proper ways for you to help your loved ones fight the OCD versus giving into it. Remember to take care of yourself. Having a loved one with a mental illness can be difficult so you must set aside time for yourself, otherwise it will be hard for you to be supportive if you are burnt out. Below you will find a series of video podcasts and other resources that will help you as you help your loved one battle Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
As an individual that has struggled with OCD for the majority of my life, I understand that this disorder takes a huge toll on the entire family/ support system. Family members hate to see their loved ones struggling and often will do whatever they can to make their loved one feel better in that moment. Often times, although the intent is to help their loved one, they are further enabling the individual’s OCD.
Other times, family members may get so frustrated with their loved one’s OCD that they will purposefully create their own exposures for the sufferer. For example, someone struggling with contamination may avoid touching a sponge in the kitchen so their family member will throw the sponge at their hands to show them that it is not dangerous. Although family members have their loved ones best interest at heart, this can be a traumatic experience for someone’s OCD and can make symptoms worse. Coming up with a plan with a qualified OCD provider to alleviate OCD accommodations (i.e. giving reassurance, cleaning, checking) is the best way to support your loved one to help them take control of their OCD.
First steps for caregivers:
- Learn about OCD
- Find a qualified treatment provider
- A qualified clinician is someone that uses evidence-based Exposure with Response Prevention for OCD. The Peace of Mind Foundation is dedicated to helping you or your loved one find a qualified evidence-based clinician to help you/ your loved one take control of your/their OCD. Let us know where you are located, and we will do our best to send you a list of qualified providers within your area.
- Support your loved one in treatment
- Avoid participating in rituals and reassurance (*Only make this change once agreed up in therapy/when your loved one is ready)
- Communicate positively – Avoid criticism
- It is important to remember that those suffering from OCD are not able to just “turn it off”. Often times, families have to be extremely patient when their loved one is engaging in onerous compulsions. However, most individuals struggling with OCD recognize that what they are doing is illogical and does not make sense but the urge to complete their rituals is so strong that they are unable to resist. Therefore, those with OCD are usually just as frustrated by their OCD as family members that are witnessing these behaviors.
- Create a support system – Find a support group
- Search for a support group you can attend with your loved one. Reach out to our foundation for a list of support groups in your area. Support groups can help to educate the family system on what day to day life looks like for someone with OCD. Additionally, your loved one will see that they are not alone by hearing about other individual’s personal journeys with OCD.
- Find time for yourself
- Spend time with your loved one that doesn’t revolve around OCD
- Make it a point to have meaningful conversations with your loved one about their interests as well as about your own interests. This can be challenging for someone struggling with OCD but can be a good practice to help them be in the present moment.