How to Help a Person with OCD - Useful Guide

Max. D Gray
By Max. D Gray. Updated: May 11, 2017
How to Help a Person with OCD - Useful Guide

When we say that a person has OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) we refer to the type of scenario where someone can not control repeating a series of stimuli due to underlying anxiety. If you know someone who follows a fixed pattern before leaving home, can not go for more than 3 hours without washing their hands or subconsciously believes that someone will die then this is what we refer to as OCD.

It is an anxiety disorder which makes the person who suffers it have a series of thoughts, actions or highly repetitive sensations that can disturb and upset them. If you know someone who may be suffering from this situation then read this article and learn how to help a person with OCD.

You may also be interested in: How to Help a Kleptomaniac

Steps to follow:


First of all, it is important to understand what OCD is. It is an anxiety disorder that causes the patient to have recurring thoughts or irrational ideas. Unlike other mental disorders, people with this condition are fully aware of what comes over them but still can not control their obsession.

We should not consider obsessive compulsive disorder as a mental illness but rather an anxiety disorder. In fact, there are more than 100 million people with OCD worldwide.

How to Help a Person with OCD - Useful Guide - Step 1

As there are many people with OCD it is important to learn how to recognise its symptoms and assess whether someone around you is suffering from it. Here is how to establish whether a person has OCD:

  • They have thoughts and / or obsessive impulses that generate discomfort and are, for example, obsessed with germs, dirt or the death of a person, etc.
  • Excessive effort to control is also a common feature in people with OCD as they try to have everything carefully controlled to a point which is excessive.
  • Perfectionism pushed to the limit is another sign that might indicate that a person is suffering from OCD. Sufferers will tend to be extremely perfectionist and never accept mistakes or be happy with end results.
  • Inflexible due to their control and perfectionism. It is very common that people with OCD do not adapt to new situations, especially social matters. They leave no opportunity for improvisation nor do they allow themselves spontaneous behaviour.
  • Repetitive behaviours due to their condition. People with OCD almost certainly have a common ritual that is always repeated in certain situations (before sleeping, going for a walk, when leaving the house, etc.). They may even feel that if they do not perform this routine something terrible will happen, such as the death of a loved one. Some people with OCD have to count certain objects to calm their anxiety.
How to Help a Person with OCD - Useful Guide - Step 2

If you know someone that may be affected by this condition next we will give you some guidelines with which you can help a person with OCD.

Firstly, it is important that you become familiar with the problem, look for information about the condition and ask for advice from a medical professional to fully understand the impact this disorder has on the sufferer's daily life.

Before attempting to help someone it is essential to know how their day to day life functions, this will help you empathize with their situation. Many people make light of this condition and brand it an 'obsession' or 'quirkiness', but remember that the person suffering is in a situation of extreme anxiety and understands that this is unusual but can not do anything to make it stop.

In fact, the most serious problem of obsessive compulsive disorder is that the person who has it realizes their condition but feels unable to stop repeating his or her obsession because, as we have said, they feel that if they try to stop something bad will happen. It is a vicious circle, as you see, that is difficult to treat and should always be supervised by a specialist psychologist.

How to Help a Person with OCD - Useful Guide - Step 3

Don't get involved in their habits.

It is particularly important that family and friends do not participate in the patient's obsession. We can have a tendency to get involved in their 'little habits' to keep them quiet but this is not a good solution because we isolate them more, as opposed to help them back into society.

For example, some people believe that when they leave the house they become contaminated and so when they return home they undress completely and put on specific clothes. If you live with a person with OCD do not repeat this ritual and instead help him or her calm their anxiety gradually. If you become involved all you will achieve is that, over time, he or she will be even less able to be in a room with people who are 'contaminated'

How to Help a Person with OCD - Useful Guide - Step 4

Be patient.

Living with a person with obsessive compulsive disorder can be difficult and at times unbearable. The lack of empathy and the obsession that can be felt by the sufferer can make joint living unmanageable. At OneHowTo we advise you to go to a psychologist to get individual treatment for the patient but also but also to offer some family therapy so that everyone can express themselves and understand what the best course of action is to facilitate a good life together.

One of the most common recommendations offered by psychologists is to establish something like a family pact. Here different aspects that will avoid the situation becoming too tense are agreed and then, little by little, the anxiety of the affected person recesses.

How to Help a Person with OCD - Useful Guide - Step 5

It is also important that if you notice any improvements in the situation of the person suffering OCD this be positively reinforcing with positive messages, with gifts or positive actions. This is especially recommended in cases where it is a child who has OCD. In this way, the person will be reassured and will want to keep improving.

A good way to do this to work is to set objectives which lead to a reward. So slowly the behaviour will be corrected and will help him or her live a much nicer reality.

This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to How to Help a Person with OCD - Useful Guide, we recommend you visit our Mental health category.

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How to Help a Person with OCD - Useful Guide