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Helping My Parent With OCD

Millions of people struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder. This anxiety disorder is difficult to manage and often debilitating. When it’s your mother or father with OCD, you may have found yourself accommodating your parent’s unusual behaviors from a young age. You may not have even realized until you were an adult that your parent struggled with OCD.

Now that you’re grown, you may want to help your mom or dad get the help they need. However, it’s also important to address how your mother’s or father’s OCD symptoms affected your upbringing so that you can heal.

Living With an OCD Parent

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a family affair. The behavioral rituals and obsessively anxious thoughts experienced by an OCD mom or dad can have a huge impact on a child. Kids naturally want to please their parents. So, to help them feel better, you may have learned to accommodate their OCD symptoms.

Accommodation is an intuitive way that children support a parent with OCD. Unfortunately, this behavior actually enables them and can cause their symptoms to get worse rather than better. If left unaddressed, this accommodation can have a negative impact on a child’s development as well.

Here are a few ways that children of OCD parents might accommodate their loved one:

  • Reassuring their parents to lessen the anxiety they have regarding their intrusive thoughts
  • Avoiding anything that could trigger their parent’s ritual
  • Participating or even completing rituals on their parent’s behalf, such as checking the locks on the doors several times or excessive hand washings
  • Helping a parent avoid triggers
  • Making decisions for a parent so they can avoid the anxiety of not knowing the right choice
  • Modifying schedules or responsibilities to accommodate a parent’s OCD

Children of an OCD parent are more likely to develop detrimental behavioral, emotional or social conditions. Some go on to develop OCD themselves. Others struggle with anxiety disorders. That’s why early treatment of OCD parents is vital for the mental and emotional health of the whole family.

Treatment for Parental OCD

If you’re an adult child of an OCD parent, it’s important to realize that accommodating behavior will not help your mom or dad. Treatment is the best way to get your parent the help they need. Treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder may vary slightly from person to person, but it usually includes these elements:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT helps those with OCD develop coping skills and strategies they can use when they’re experiencing intrusive thoughts or anxiety.
  • Family therapy: Family therapy can help you understand your parent’s disorder and learn ways to avoid accommodating them. You’ll also have the freedom to address how your parent’s behaviors have impacted you.
  • Medication: Antidepressants and other medications may help your parent manage the intrusive thoughts that cause them so much anxiety.

Getting Help for Your Parent’s OCD and Addiction

It’s estimated that 25% of those struggling with OCD also have a substance use disorder. If your mom or dad struggles with OCD as well as an addiction, it’s essential to find treatment that can address these co-occuring conditions. At Gateway Foundation, we offer effective treatment programs that work for both OCD and addiction.

Contact us today to learn more about our life-changing treatment options and how they could help your family find hope and healing.

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