How Can I Help Someone With OCD?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a commonly misunderstood mental health illness. Contrary to popular belief, it is not synonymous with being a “neat freak” or perfectionist. Instead, it’s a highly distressing psychological disorder that can significantly impair multiple aspects of daily life, including work, school, family, and relationships. If you know someone with OCD, show your love and support with these tips.

Learn More About OCD

The first step is to stop using the phrase, “I’m so OCD” about this or that. You may not realize it, but speaking this way makes light of the impact obsessive-compulsive disorder has on those who suffer from it. Then, educate yourself on the two main components of OCD:

  • Obsessive thoughts: Distressing, repetitive thinking fuels OCD-related anxiety. Thoughts may center on cleanliness, impending catastrophes, organization and symmetry, and mental rituals.
  • Compulsive behaviors: Many patients develop ritualistic behaviors, such as excessive hand washing, to help suppress their stressful thought patterns and prevent the things they fear from happening. In time, these behaviors induce anxiety themselves, creating a cycle of thoughts and actions that exhaust the person experiencing them.


Avoid Accommodation Behaviors

Sometimes, it may seem helpful to accommodate obsessions and compulsions by assisting with repetitive behaviors or even performing them alongside your loved one. While your goal may be to provide comfort, this only normalizes the behavior and negatively impacts treatment.

To recover from OCD, your loved one must learn to break the cycle of obsessive thoughts that promote compulsive behaviors. This doesn’t mean you should get irritated or tell your loved one to “just stop.” Instead, patiently encourage more healthy, less compulsive behaviors.

Support Their Treatment Efforts

As with other mental illnesses, OCD cannot be conquered through sheer force of will. If your loved one resists getting help, provide your emotional support and suggest that they research OCD themselves and look into getting diagnosed.

Once your loved one begins treatment, you’re bound to start seeing improvements in their behavior before they do. Be sure to point out this progress and express how proud you are. There may be frustrations and setbacks along the way, which makes your support and understanding crucial for making a full recovery.

Know the Treatment Options for OCD

Your loved one may need a combination of treatments to help them recover from OCD. Here are some options:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy: CBT is a popular form of psychotherapy. The goal is to help patients become less anxious about the thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and physical reactions tied to OCD. A subtype of CBT, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), helps patients develop openness and flexibility regarding their obsessive thoughts and commit to changing their behavior.
  • Exposure and response prevention therapy: ERP is another type of psychotherapy used for treating OCD. It gradually exposes the patient to the source of their anxiety while a mental health professional coaches them to delay and eventually stop engaging in compulsive behavior.
  • Medication: Many antidepressants are FDA-approved to treat OCD, which may be most effective for patients with co-occurring major depressive disorder. Medication is often used in conjunction with ERP. After the first session or two of ERP therapy, the therapist should know if antidepressants could be helpful.
  • Lifestyle changes: Good mental health begins with a nutritious diet, regular exercise, and a good night’s rest. Other lifestyle tips to help ward off OCD symptoms include keeping up with your regularly scheduled activities and adopting stress-management techniques, such as yoga, meditation, and massage therapy.
  • Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation: Studies have confirmed that the medial prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulate cortex are the brain structures directly related to OCD. By safely and effectively regulating the neural activity in these areas, Deep TMS™ can help combat symptoms of OCD. This is the only non-invasive magnetic device FDA-cleared to treat OCD. It’s also safe to combine Deep TMS with other forms of therapy, including those listed above.

If you’re interested in trying Deep TMS to treat OCD, BrainsWay has the resources you need. BrainsWay is a global leader in advancing neurostimulation treatments for mental health disorders. Since its proprietary Deep TMS platform technology was introduced in 2013, this company has improved the health and transformed the lives of countless patients. In addition to safely treating OCD, Deep TMS is FDA-cleared to treat major depressive disorder and smoking addiction. The technology is backed by independent studies demonstrating its clinical effectiveness.

For more information about Deep TMS, feel free to explore our extensive online knowledge center or use our website to find a provider near you.