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7 Ways To Support a Friend With OCD

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You are officially friends with someone who has obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Now what?

1. Educate yourself. 

First and foremost, educate yourself. Do some research (I personally like and Learn what OCD is and what it isn’t. Learn the basics, however, do not assume your friend will have the same obsessions/compulsions as those you may read about.

2. Ask questions.

Don’t be afraid to ask your friend questions. If you are unsure about what OCD really is or what is true and what is a misconception, just ask. Your friend will most likely be grateful that you are trying to understand what they are going through.

3. Be positive!

Positivity is key! Most of the time OCD can be a dark cloud over a person, it can be really hard to have a good day that is ritual or
obsession free. Being positive, even in small ways, can make a big difference — a smile here, an encouraging word there. Talk with them about things that are fun, make plans to get together over the weekend. Avoid telling them to just “get over it” or “stop thinking about it,” that isn’t how it works. Someone with OCD cannot just “turn off” their thoughts.

4. Don’t compare yourself to them.

In my opinion, one of the worst things you can do is compare yourself to them. When your friend is struggling with an obsession or
compulsion, don’t say “sometimes I do that too” or “sometimes I get nervous when I have to take tests.” Comparing your everyday stress to their OCD invalidates them. Even if you have the same diagnosis as your friend, your experiences will be different and you should not compare or try to “one up” them on symptoms.

5. Don’t enable them.

If your friend is stuck in a compulsion loop, do not enable them. Encourage and try to help them to stop, rather than taking part in it. For example, if someone is obsessing over a certain disease do not join them in Googling symptoms about the ailment, rather, try to distract them.

6. Listen.

Your friend may or may not want to talk about their experiences with OCD, but if and when they do, be there to listen. Offer your support but
try to avoid giving advice (leave that to the professionals). Just be a
shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen. Give them love and support, offer to help them find a mental health professional, if they’re already in therapy, offer to help them with their homework (CBT worksheets, ERP, etc.)

7. Take care of yourself.

You won’t be able to help your friend unless you are taking care of yourself. Make sure your mental health (and physical/emotional health)
is in check. Be there for your friend, but make sure you put your own needs first. If you do not take care of yourself, there is no way you’ll be able to support your friend with OCD.

Would you add any other helpful pieces of advice to this list? Tell us in the comments.

Photo credit: flukyfluky/Getty Images

Originally published: March 14, 2019
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