Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a challenging mental health condition. It affects almost 0.8% of the population in India. One of the most distressing aspects of OCD is intrusive thoughts, which are unwanted and distressing ideas or images that repeatedly pop up in a person’s mind. In this article, we will discuss how we can support someone who is going through OCD and intrusive thoughts

Offering support to a loved one suffering from OCD can make them feel accepted and even play a key role in their journey of recovery. Here are some tips for the same:

  • Educate Yourself

It can be tough to offer support when we aren’t aware of the signs and symptoms of a condition. Thus, start by learning more about OCD and how intrusive thoughts can impact a person’s life. Learning more about OCD can also help reduce any misconceptions or stigma that you might have about the condition. It can also help you understand their experience and empathise with them.

  • Encourage Open Communication

Suffering from OCD can often feel overwhelming and isolating Thus, focus on creating a safe- space for your loved one. Encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings without judging. Show genuine interest in understanding their experiences and struggles, and avoid offering immediate solutions. Validate their feelings, and let them know that they are not alone in their struggles.

  • Recognize The Triggers

Intrusive thoughts and compulsions are often the result of difficult situations. Thus, managing these triggering situations is key to recovery. Take time to learn about the person’s triggers and patterns. When you understand their challenges, you can help them navigate difficult situations or avoid circumstances that may trigger compulsive behaviours. Also, make a plan about how you can support them during such triggering situations. 

  • Be Accepting And Patient

OCD can have a huge impact on a person’s daily functioning and even relationships. Their behaviour may also differ from what it was before they started experiencing symptoms of OCD, and they may not be able to behave the way you want them to. At such times, it is important to be patient and modify your expectations of them. Adjusting your expectations might be difficult, but it can help you and the other person feel less stressed.

  • Notice and Acknowledge Progress

If you observe that your loved one is making progress, even if it’s small, take the time to acknowledge these positive changes. Recognizing their improvement can offer encouragement and bring a sense of hope for their recovery.

  • Avoid Enabling Their Compulsive Behaviors

It can be hard to see your loved one struggling with intrusive thoughts, and getting involved or helping them with their compulsive behaviour may seem like the only way to reduce their stress. But understand that helping the person with their compulsive behaviours only makes it tougher for them to recover. Instead, encourage them to gradually adopt healthier coping mechanisms. 

  • Encourage Them To Seek Help

OCD can be treated. While support from loved ones is invaluable, professional support is necessary. Encourage the person to seek help from mental health professionals, such as therapists or psychiatrists, who specialize in treating OCD. Help them find suitable resources and accompany them to appointments if needed.

  • Take Care Of Yourself

While it is important to support your loved one, your health and well-being matter too. This ensures that both you and the other person receive the necessary care and support for overall mental well-being, fostering a positive relationship. Some examples of self-care include going for walks, talking to a therapist, having a strong social group, etc.


Supporting someone with OCD and intrusive thoughts requires empathy and compassion. By educating yourself, having a non-judgmental attitude, and showing patience, you can create a supportive environment for your loved one. Remember to care for yourself during the process as well.


  1. How to Help Someone With OCD: 11 Tips for Offering Support. (n.d.). Choosing Therapy. Retrieved February 5, 2024, from https://www.choosingtherapy.com/how-to-help-someone-with-ocd/
  2. How to Support Someone with OCD. (2016, May 17). Psych Central. https://psychcentral.com/ocd/how-to-support-someone-with-ocd
  3. Living With Someone Who Has OCD. Guidelines for Family Members. (n.d.). International OCD Foundation. Retrieved February 5, 2024, from https://iocdf.org/expert-opinions/expert-opinion-family-guidelines/
  4. Services, D. of H. & H. (n.d.). Obsessive compulsive disorder—Family and friends. Department of Health & Human Services. Retrieved February 5, 2024, from http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-family-and-friends
Dhruva Koranne

Dhruva Koranne has completed his Masters in Applied Psychology from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, BALM. He has been practicing as a counsellor since 2020 and works to create a safe space for clients where they can open up. In addition to this, Dhruva loves researching and studying about upcoming theories in the field of Psychology. Connect with him on Linkedin