Telling Others

In a world of social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest, blogs on every topic imaginable, forwarded emails, “googling” for information about people, and personal YouTube videos just a click away, it sometimes seems that everyone’s life is exposed for all to see.  But many people prefer to be more private when it comes to OCD.

If you’re one of those people, and you’re struggling with whether to tell family and friends about your OCD, here are some things to consider.

First, family members are a kind of natural support system.  Chances are they’ve noticed changes in your behavior or already realize something is wrong, even if they haven’t said anything to you about it.  Because OCD often has a genetic basis, your parents may even know other family members who have symptoms of OCD.  And because they care about you, they’ll probably be relieved to know you’re getting help and may want to help you in any way they can.  Parents may be able to offer financial assistance, for example, if treatment is available only through a therapist in private practice.

Second, it can be important to have a network of friends who know about your OCD.  For example, it may be advisable to tell close friends and other people you trust so they’ll understand your OCD behavior.  If you do ERP homework in your dorm, you’ll also need to tell your roommate.  Like family members, friends and roommates may also be part of your support system.  They may serve as “coaches” to encourage you to complete your ERP homework and celebrate your victories over OCD.  They may also be much-needed confidants who encourage and motivate you when the going gets tough.

Telling others about your OCD is an individual decision that varies from person to person.  Your therapist can help you decide whom to tell and how to tell them.  It may be helpful to provide friends and family accurate information about OCD by showing them this brochure or the link to

The following books are also excellent sources of information for family members:

  • Loving Someone with OCD: Help for You and Your Family by Karen J. Landsman, Kathleen M. Rupertus and Cherry Pedrick
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: New Help for the Family (Second Edition) by Herbert L.Gravitz

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