top of page

Support and OCD

How to Support Your Loved One with OCD

Seeing a loved one suffer with OCD is painful. It can be scary to watch them consumed with anxiety and intrusive thoughts that are out of their control. You might feel confused as they repeatedly do things or ask questions that don’t make any sense to you. You may even feel annoyed and wish they would “just snap out of it.” All of these feelings are natural.


It is understandable that you may feel lost and unsure of how to help your loved one. This guide provides direction and guidelines designed to help educate people on how to support their loved one who is struggling with OCD.

Please note: The underlying approaches for helping a loved one with OCD are the same, regardless of whether the loved one is a child, sibling, parent, partner, or friend.

When someone is having a very difficult time, it is very important for the person to feel understood, accepted, and not judged. It is common for people with OCD to feel ashamed, weird, crazy, or like something is wrong with them because of their intrusive thoughts and compulsions. Letting your loved one know that you genuinely accept them as they are and want to understand what they’re going through can help reduce the stigma that they feel.


Approaching your loved one with kindness and acceptance (e.g., “I’m here to learn more about what you are going through.”) rather than asking questions or making suggestions that can feel judgmental (e.g., “Why do you get stuck on these thoughts?” or “Think more rationally about the situation.”) can also help them feel safe to open up to you about their struggles.   

Sometimes, your loved one may not truly understand what is going on with their OCD. This experience is common among those with OCD, and it is okay. Having intrusive thoughts and intense anxiety that one cannot control is overwhelming and confusing. Your loved one may be just as confused as you are about what is happening to them. 

When OCD is strong, it can be highly disruptive and make many things difficult for the person with OCD and others around them. If this is your experience, it is important to acknowledge and validate the pain OCD is causing your loved one and you. It’s okay to feel angry, resentful, or any other emotion for the way your loved one’s OCD impacts your life.


Having strong emotions about your loved one’s OCD does not mean that you do not care or are not doing your best to be supportive. It just means that you are a human who is experiencing something difficult. You also deserve compassion and empathy as you navigate painful emotions that come up while supporting your loved one with OCD. 

We hope this introductory Guide has provided helpful information regarding ways to help support a loved one who is struggling with OCD.

If you would like to learn more about helping your loved one through OCD, including situations of loved ones unintentionally feeding and/or giving into the OCD, in the associated comprehensive Educational Guides we cover the following content areas to help you support your loved one:

bottom of page