How OCD Affects Relationships

OCD has a huge impact on relationships. To mark OCD Awareness week, let’s explore this topic that comes up often in our work with clients.

If you’re experiencing OCD, it’s common to feel confused, ashamed and alone.

After all, you know you’re doing things that are very different; things that other people don’t do. You may have tried to hide it or pretend it wasn’t there. Maybe you fought it so it would go away. But deep down it remained – even when it seemed gone for periods of time.

Many people feel OCD is a secret they had to keep.

They think they should be able to get better on their own.  But when there’s little improvement, these thoughts turn into deeply held beliefs that there’s something wrong with them, that they’re crazy, dark and deviant people, etc.

This reinforces keeping silent about OCD.

It’s this silence that takes a toll on relationships. Unlike anxiety and depression, there’s a knowledge and understanding about OCD is minimal among the general public. The myths, taboo, stigma, and the way OCD is sometimes comically portrayed in the media also make it a lot harder to talk about this condition openly.

Here are some common ways that OCD affects relationships.

  • Avoidance. Whether it’s certain people, situations, places, and/or events, you steer clear of anything that might trigger you.  This makes it hard to socialize, meet new people, or have new experiences.
  • Conflict. In some cases, that family and friends may assist you in avoiding your triggers, covering-up your symptoms, participate in OCD behaviors, and adjust to unreasonable changes in routine. However, you’re likely to see that at some point, this becomes unsustainable. Arguments, ultimatums, frustration, resentment, etc. are likely to occur.
  • Isolation. Restricting your contact with people and experiences leaves you very much alone. Having OCD is hard enough, facing it alone is daunting. Beside OCD, you also start to feel anxious, depressed, angry, frustrated, and/or hopeless.

When left unattended, OCD has the potential to severely worsen.

Symptoms can interfere with activities of daily living, like bathing, eating, sleeping, etc.Failing out of school and losing employment are also common outcomes as OCD deteriorates. Parents, spouses, partners, friends or others may be filled with questions, concerns, and struggle in knowing how to help.

Fortunately, there is effective treatment available.

Therapy interventions proven to help with OCD include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). In addition to medication and therapy, there are also OCD support groups and many self-help books and workbooks. (These are also good options to consider if you can’t afford therapy.) Besides helping you understand your diagnosis and symptom management,

Therapy can also help you improve your relationships.

When seeking out professional help, consider the value of welcoming loved ones to be part of your treatment. Getting them involved can help them learn and understand the best ways to support you. After all, research shows that social support is important for overall wellbeing and improving quality of life.

Just remember: You are not alone.

OCD affects children and adults, men and women from all different backgrounds. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 1 to 2% of the population has OCD. Chances are, throughout your life, you probably have met a friend, teacher, coach, mentor, coworker, boss, neighbor or other, who had OCD and you didn’t know it. The more you read, learn, and talk about OCD the further you’ll go in your journey of recovering for its effects. 

You’ll also be raising awareness and helping end taboos, myths, and stigmas that have stop others struggling with OCD (just like you) from seeking help.

Share this article with someone that you know that may be struggling with OCD.  To better help them, you can call us at (305) 501-0133 or click here to schedule a free 20-minute Clarity Consult. We’ll be happy to answer your questions and give you recommendations about your treatment options based on your needs.

Envision Wellness is a private practice that offers psychotherapy, psychological testing, and life coaching in Miami, FL.  Our team has a passion for helping others achieve happy, fulfilling, and change-making lives that make the world a better place.  Each therapist has their areas of expertise.  Not sure who you’d like to work with?  Click here to schedule a free 20-minute phone consult to help you decide.

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