Prevention is the best option

How can I help someone with OCD?

com tractar a un pacient amb TOC

People with obsessive compulsive disorder have persistent and recurring thoughts which are generally unpleasant, known as obsessions. These thoughts lead people to carry out repetitive actions or rituals which help them cope with the obsession. These are known as compulsions.

These thoughts lead people to carry out repetitive actions or rituals which help them cope with the obsession. These are known as compulsions.

People with OCD very often feel that something bad will happen if they don’t carry out these compulsive actions and so they feel "obliged" to do them. This creates a great deal of anxiety and distress, as they feel it is their responsibility to stop bad things happening.

For this type of people the environment is vital, since with their attitude towards their obsessions, they can make him feel more calm with himself, managing to lower his level of anxiety. 


How to help this kind of people


  • Offer them emotional support and show empathy. This will help them feel accepted, understood and supported.
  • You are supporting them just by being there when they want to talk about their thoughts, feelings or compulsions.
  • Try to explain that you want the best for them, and ask them to tell you if you do or say anything that makes them uncomfortable. This will help them be honest with and trust you. At the same time, they will feel more relaxed and place less importance on their obsessions.
  • Offer your support without approving of or validating their OCD-related behaviours: “I’m here to support you or if you want to talk”
  • Do not judge or criticise. Avoid constantly judging or criticising their obsessions and compulsions, as this will probably mean they hide their OCD from you. If they withdraw into themselves it will be hard for them to get the right treatment and may also damage your relationship with them. They might feel better being around you if they see that you are tolerant.
  • Remember that everyone gets better at their own pace.
  • Be patient during the treatment they receive for their OCD.
  • Slow, gradual progress is better than a relapse, so make sure you are always supportive and don’t expect change to be quick.
  • Openly acknowledge small achievements so that they know you can see their progress and that you are proud of them. Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool which will encourage them to continue trying.
  • Talk to them about things that are unrelated to obsessive compulsive disorder and their symptoms. OCD should not become the only thing that brings you together.
  • Try not to enable compulsions. Don't do things that enable their compulsive behaviour, such as buying the cleaning products they need for obsessive cleaning.
  • Do not change your routine. If you change your routine to accommodate the symptoms of OCD, you are changing the behaviour of the family or those around them to adapt to the basic behaviours of the disorder. In this way, their rituals will be treated with normality and will not draw attention, or affect others.


An example would be not to wait for someone with OCD to finish a hand-washing ritual before you start eating dinner.

  • Help the person to feel motivated to seek treatment.
  • You can tell them that OCD is very treatable and that their symptoms and anxiety can be greatly reduced.
  • The participation of family members is vitally important to help with OCD behaviours and treatment in order to reduce the symptoms of the disorder.


Lastly, remember this quote from Nietzsche: “We all know how to complicate things, but only a few are able to simplify them”.



Related professionals
Dr. Josep Antoni
Ramos Quiroga
Head of Department
Lead Researcher
Psychiatry, Mental Health and Addictions
Sra. Mercedes
Rodríguez Fernández
Dr. Marc
Ferrer Vinardell
Head of Section
Lead Researcher
Psychiatry, Mental Health and Addictions
Dra. Gemma
Parramon Puig
Head of Section
Dra. María Sonsoles
Cepeda Diez
Dra. Mar
Ramos Gascon
Dra. Amanda
Rodriguez Urrutia
Psychiatry, Mental Health and Addictions
Dr. Christian
Fadeuilhe Grau
Sra. Anna
Beneria Gonzàlez
Dr. Francisco
Collazos Sánchez
Sra. Marta
Sorribes Puertas
Dr. Jose A.
Navarro Sanchis
Sra. Marta
Perea Ortueta