Obsessive-compulsive Disorder

Coping with OCD can be challenging, but NAMI is here to provide support and information for you and your family.

Contact the NAMI HelpLine at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or info@nami.org if you have any questions about obsessive-compulsive disorders, or finding support and resources.

Helping Yourself

Obsessive-compulsive disorders can make work, school, relationships and other parts of life difficult. Reducing stress, eating well, and avoiding situations that trigger obsessions and compulsions can help you feel better. Some ways that can help include:

  • Learn about obsessive-compulsive disorders. Education about your condition can empower you and motivate you to stick to your treatment plan.
  • Join a support group. Support groups can help you reach out to others facing similar challenges.
  • Focus on your goals. Recovery is an ongoing process. Stay motivated by keeping your goals in mind.
  • Stay busy. With these disorders, it is easy to become completely absorbed in an activity or thought. Try to stay occupied with work, hobbies, fitness or other activities. While staying busy is not always easy, simply doing other tasks helps keep your mind away from obsessions and compulsions.
  • Find healthy outlets. Regular exercise, eating a healthy diet and getting adequate sleep can have a positive effect on your treatment. Also, avoid drugs and alcohol: while they might temporarily reduce symptoms, they can make you feel worse over time. You should also let you doctor know about any other prescription or over-the-counter medications you take. These may interact with psychiatric medications and increase your symptoms.
  • Know your triggers. Avoid situations you know bring on your symptoms. If you can't avoid something, ask your mental health professional to help you find coping skills to deal with anything triggering. Try stress management techniques such as meditation, muscle relaxation, deep breathing, yoga or tai chi.

If you live with a mental health condition, learn more about managing your mental health and finding the support you need.

Helping a Family Member or Friend

  • Learn about the disorders. Knowing the symptoms will help you understand the behaviors of your loved one and the difficulties they face. The International OCD Foundation is an excellent resource for information on the obsessive-compulsive spectrum, including information on hoarding, BDD and trichotillomania.
  • Communicate. Talk openly and honestly with your friend or family member if you have any questions or concerns. Make sure that your loved one is ready to talk, so that they are receptive to what you say and can tell you how they feel.
  • Be patient. By showing patience you will show your loved one that you care and understand. This behavior will also allow your friend or family member to know that you can see beyond their diagnosis.

Find out more about taking care of a family member or friend and yourself.