Helping those with OCD: Is it love or is it enabling?

Posted by Phil Cardenas on Jul 22, 2013

It’s difficult to watch someone suffer, especially someone you love. You want to help, but you don’t want to make things worse in the process. The good news is there are ways to help an OCD sufferer, and they can make a difference.

The first thing to do is learn if it really is OCD. Many disorders that appear to be OCD to the lay person are not. The only way to be sure is to have the individual diagnosed by a professional. That may be a school counselor, a social services agency, or a therapist. One of the first steps to take is to encourage the individual to get evaluated.

Most adults and teens that suffer from OCD view it as an undesirable distraction and they want to be rid of it. That differentiates them from persons with certain other forms of obsessive or compulsive behavior who see their habits or peculiarities as benign or even somewhat charming. 

Once a diagnosis of OCD is made, help might come in the following forms:

  • Encourage the loved one to find treatment and stick with it.
  • Don’t enable the OCD behavior. “Playing along” or accommodating OCD behaviors may actually make the condition worse.
  • Establish a positive emotional environment. Interaction with a loved one can play an important role in their treatment.
  • Encourage them to invite input from others to improve quality of life. Family members, friends, educators, spiritual advisors and even media resources can have positive influences.

Beyond OCD has numerous online resources for understanding, treating and coping with OCD. You can learn more about how to manage emotions and responses as you interact with the person who has OCD. Our Information for Friends and Families has excellent tips including an article about families of OCD sufferers.

We know that dealing with OCD in a loved one can present challenges and that suggestions may sound easier to say than do. Beyond OCD exists to help those with OCD and their families and friends develop the knowledge and skills to net improved lives for everyone involved. The following sections will help you get started:

Information for Families (including Spouses)

Information for Friends

Beyond OCD is committed to offering OCD sufferers and their loved ones the latest information on the disorder. To learn more about OCD and its treatment, visit our web site at It’s there to help you get the information you need to go beyond OCD.


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