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Helping My Adult Child With OCD

As a parent, you do everything in your power to protect and care for your child. When OCD turns your child’s life upside down, it’s heartbreaking to witness this condition’s effect on their mind and emotions. How do you defend them from an attacker that comes from within?

As you learn more about obsessive-compulsive disorder, you can offer your child the support they need to find hope for a fuller, happier life.

Understanding OCD for Family Members

OCD can occur in anyone, even young adults. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a serious anxiety disorder characterized by uncontrollable and often disturbing thoughts, called obsessions, as well as repeated actions or rituals, called compulsions. These thoughts and urges can be a heavy, debilitating burden.

Does OCD Run in Families?

Experts don’t completely understand the precise cause of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Like other mental health conditions, it seems to have a strong genetic basis. Individuals with a first-degree relative who has OCD, such as a parent or a sibling, are five times more at risk of developing this disorder.

As a parent, you want to understand what causes your child’s OCD — but it’s just as important that you recognize what does not cause OCD.

Guilt is one of the strongest emotions felt by the parents of individuals with OCD. Did something you do trigger your child’s OCD symptoms? You can rest assured that you did not cause your child’s OCD. While stress or illness can aggravate symptoms, even the most flawed parenting does not cause this disorder.

Loving Someone With OCD

Every parent-child relationship has its own nuances. While you may mess up or do the wrong things at times, helping and loving someone with OCD is possible. Here are some ways you can care for and support your child with OCD.

Become Educated

Once you find out about your child’s OCD diagnosis, it’s important to understand their condition. Seek education in any way you can — whether that involves books, websites, support groups or even just conversations with your child about their experiences.

Avoid Accommodation

While family problems don’t cause OCD, you can have an unintentional impact on your child’s symptoms. Parents frequently accommodate their child’s OCD behaviors. Accomodation could include helping them conduct rituals or providing them with the items they need to perform their compulsive actions. While this behavior comes from a well-meaning place, you may actually be enabling your child’s OCD and causing their symptoms to worsen.

What Should You Not Say to Someone With OCD?

Sometimes the comments you intend to help your child can backfire, coming across as hurtful or dismissive instead of empathetic. You should avoid saying things like:

  • “That’s no big deal.”
  • “I do that too.”
  • “You don’t act like you have OCD.”
  • “Why can’t you just stop?”
  • “It’s just a quirk.”
  • “It’s not serious.”

Encourage Your Child to Get Treatment

If your child remains untreated for obsessive-compulsive disorder, it’s time to connect them with professional treatment. While there is no cure for this disorder, a comprehensive treatment approach can dramatically reduce their symptoms and transform their life for the better.

Learn More About Treatment for OCD and Co-Occuring Addiction

If your child’s OCD is accompanied by an addiction to drugs or alcohol, Gateway Foundation is here to help. For over 50 years, we’ve provided comprehensive addiction and mental health services to those living in Illinois. We offer dual diagnosis treatment that can address addictive behaviors as well as any underlying issues, including obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Contact us today to learn more about our life-saving treatment with proven results.

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