Seeking Support for Your OCD
By Jessica Morgan and Eric Storch
Regardless of age, suffering from OCD can leave a person feeling frustrated, alone, and
unsure of where to turn for help. Some people with OCD may hide their symptoms from
their friends and loved ones because of embarrassment or fears that others will not
understand. And, many people with OCD find it difficult to acknowledge that they may
need support and help.
If you are suffering from OCD, there are treatments available that can help you improve
your symptoms and quality of life. In general, seeking help as early as possible – from
a trained mental health clinician like a psychologist or psychiatrist – is a good strategy.
Using skills learned in working with trained professionals such as exposure and response
prevention therapy can help you learn to manage anxiety, reduce your compulsions,
and make improvements in your daily life. You or your parents can call local therapists
in your area and ask if they have experience using exposure and response prevention
therapy to help people with OCD. You or your parents can also find therapists who are
registered with IOCDF here.
As you are making improvements in your life with the help of a therapist, it will also help
you to have other sources of support around you in your daily life – friends and loved
ones who understand what you are going through and can cheer you on in the fight
against OCD. If it is hard to explain your OCD to the people in your life, it might help to
ask them to read the IOCDF’s brochure, "What You Need to Know about OCD". Importantly, developing
supports early in life sets up the foundation for how you will cope with stress as you get
Friends and loved ones should build you up, not tear you down. If you find that the
people in your daily life provide criticism instead of encouragement and do not cheer
you on when you are making efforts to fight your OCD, it may be useful to consider
other sources of support. Struggling with OCD is nothing to be ashamed of. Online
support groups, local support groups, and group therapy for OCD are all excellent
sources of people who will understand what you are going through and the challenges
you are facing. Click here to search our database of local support groups. If, after running a web search, you find there are no OCD support groups
in your area, you can find sources for online OCD support groups here on the IOCDF
website. For those teens who are under 18
years of age, it is important to talk with your parents about participating in these groups
In addition to social support, it may be helpful to identify activities that you find
enjoyable. These can include an array of things, such as exercise, volunteering, or
various hobbies. Filling your life with meaningful activities is an important reminder that
You are more than your OCD. OCD does not have to be what your whole life is about.
Remember that support means support for you, not support for your OCD. The people
in your life should help you fight in your battle against OCD. Work with your friends and
family so that they know the things that are helpful for you, versus behaviors that may
get in the way of your life and OCD.