A large number of people contact OCD Action because they are concerned about a friend or family member who seems to be struggling with OCD.
Often, they don’t know how to raise the subject or, if they have talked about it in the past, their friend or family member does not want to get help or does not recognise that they have a problem. If you are concerned about someone there are few things that you can do.
1) Understand the impact that OCD is having on them
It is important that you try to understand and appreciate the impact that OCD is having on someone you care about. It is not just the time they may be spending on rituals but also the emotional strain of intrusive thoughts. Think about what the OCD is making them do and what it is stopping them from doing.
2) Appreciate that they can’t “just stop”
OCD is a serious disorder. It makes people do things that they don’t want to do and have thoughts that they do not want to have. They cannot just stop. It is important to show that you recognise this and that you acknowledge how hard it can be.
3) Explain the impact that their OCD is having on you and others
OCD has a massive impact on friends and family members. It is important that you can express this to a person with OCD and tell them how their behaviour is affecting others. This is not to add to the guilt that they will no doubt already feel, but help them acknowledge and measuring the total impact of their OCD.
4) Tell them that OCD can be treated
You can offer hope. Sometimes people with OCD find it very hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The reality is that most people with OCD will benefit from treatment and be able to their life get back on track. There are lots of inspiring stories on the OCD Action website (www.ocdaction.org.uk) that you can share with them.
5) Offer a “stepping stone”
Going to the doctor for the first time can be a big step. Sometimes the thought of telling anyone can be too daunting. If the person you are concerned about does not feel able to go to their GP, you can suggest that they call the OCD Action Helpline (0300 636 5478). They can call anonymously and our Helpline volunteers will really understand where they are coming from. They may find that once they have spoken to us, they feel more prepared to take the next step and go to their GP.
6) Show the alternative
When you are in the midst of OCD it can be quite hard to imagine life without it. It can be helpful for you to talk to them about what things would be like without OCD. Help them to visualise what you could be doing or what you could be doing together. It can really help to set goals and have something to work towards.
7) Be on their side
Fighting OCD is hard, make sure that they know that you are on their side and that you will support them throughout the treatment process.
8) Accept that it can take time
You cannot force someone to seek help, they need to make the decision for themselves. This can take time and it is important that you try to be patient and supportive.
If you do have any questions about the above or if you want to talk it through with someone who will understand, please call the OCD Action Helpline on 0300 636 5478.