How Do I Reassure A Loved One With OCD?

Thanks to the growing transparency of mental health conversations happening across the internet on mainstream websites, there is a greater understanding of OCD growing. Obsessive compulsive disorder is considered an anxiety disorder and is characterized by two components: obsessive, intrusive thoughts, and compulsive behaviors which are often both repetitive as well as ritualistic. The compulsive behaviors provide relief to the stress caused by the chronic intrusive thoughts and obsessions.

Obsessive compulsive behavior is often portrayed through the compulsive behaviors and rituals individuals participate in, most often an obsession with cleanliness, order, or repetitive behaviors. However, the compulsions of OCD are varied and complex, as are the obsessive thoughts which plague those who live with the mental disorder. In order for someone living with OCD to “get to” their compulsive behaviors, they have to reach a climax of distress in attempting to cope with their intrusive thoughts. A common way that those living with OCD seek stress relief from their thoughts is asking for reassurance or checking for safety. Oftentimes, intrusive thoughts aren’t necessarily specific. They may just include general feelings of dread, being frightened,  or feeling as though something isn’t right.

Reassuring a loved one with OCD that everything is okay, in whatever capacity they need to hear that in, seems innocent enough. When someone we love has been through one or multiple traumas and that trauma has manifested into more suffering through OCD, we want to do what we can to healthily relieve as much of their stress as possible. We provide comfort, reassurance, encouragement, and support where we can.

However, our efforts to provide reassurance to our loved ones with OCD may be problematic. An obsessive and intrusive thought leads our loved one to the compulsion to ask for reassurance. We reassure them. The brain is then programmed for ritual. Eventually, the OCD brain learns that the obsessive thought can be relieved by the reassurance of a safe family member. Consequently, asking for and receiving assurance becomes another repetitive ritual. Though it seems to be a healthy one, it still becomes a coping source for OCD which is external to the person living with OCD. As a result, the entire process is reaffirmed, validated, and reinforced.

Through treatment and therapy, our loved ones can find relief from their cyclical suffering by healing their trauma and reclaiming their lives.  

Learning to be is part of the process of trauma recovery. Stop the cycle of merry-go-round treatment and find the solution you’re looking for in trauma treatment. Through effective residential treatment, Khiron House helps you find the path you need toward health and wellness in recovery. For information, call us today. UK: 020 3811 2575 (24 hours). USA: (866) 801 6184 (24 hours).