Obsessive-compulsive disorder affects 2.2 million adults in the United States. This disorder can cause significant distress to the diagnosed individual and their family.
Living with someone with OCD can be difficult and put a wrench in the relationship. To cope and become a unit again, you should learn more about obsessive-compulsive disorder. Read on to do just that.
What Is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?
Learning how to deal with an OCD person involves first understanding the disorder. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), is a mental illness causing repeated unwanted thoughts, obsessions, or compulsions.
Those diagnosed with OCD may experience obsessions and compulsions which is where the disorder gets its name.
An example of obsessive thought is thinking certain colors are “bad” or “good.” Another is constantly worrying about a loved one or yourself getting harmed.
Those with OCD may have a heightened awareness of body sensations like breathing or blinking. A married person with OCD may have the suspicion that their partner is unfaithful without reasonable cause.
Obsessive thoughts and actions are beyond control, aren’t enjoyable, and can interfere with daily life. These thoughts can take up an hour of the day at a time but usually lasts for longer.
A compulsive habit could be a physical or mental action that a person with OCD feels they need to do.
Examples of compulsive habits could be counting steps and completing tasks in a specific order each time. Those with OCD might have a fear of public toilets, doorknobs, or shaking someone’s hand.
Types of OCD
The four general categories of OCD are contamination, checking, symmetry and ordering, and ruminations and intrusive thoughts. A person with OCD will fall into at least one of these categories.
Contamination is the fear that something is dirty and results in a compulsion to clean. Mental contamination is believing you have been treated badly.
Checking OCD can lead a person to believe they have a medical condition that they don’t have. It may also involve checking ovens, light switches, locks, alarm systems, etc. over and over again.
Symmetry and order is one of the most common types of OCD that people know about. It causes someone to line things up a certain way, making sure they are in the “right” place.
Ruminations and intrusive thoughts lead to an obsession with a certain thought. The thoughts can be disturbing and violent but aren’t always.
Causes and Risk Factors of OCD
It’s still unknown why certain people have OCD, but there are risk factors health professionals are aware of. Symptoms usually start to occur in teens and young adults.
Other risk factors are as follows:
- Family history of OCD
- Differences in parts of the physical brain
- Anxiety, tics, or depression
- Sexual or physical abuse as a child
Stress can make OCD symptoms worse.
How to Spot OCD
When you are living with an OCD spouse, it is essential to recognize obsessive-compulsive behavior to strengthen your relationship. The major warning sign of OCD is a behavioral change.
Signals to watch out for include:
- Unexplained time spent alone
- Repetitive behaviors
- Need for reassurance
- Questioning of self-judgment
- Continual tardiness
- Tasks taking more time than usual
- Concern for details and other minor things
- Severe emotional reactions to minor things
- Lack of proper sleep
- Getting things done late at night
- Changes in eating habits
- Struggling daily life
- Avoiding things and people
- Mood changes
When you are living with someone with OCD, you shouldn’t criticize or blame them for their behavior changes. This can further trigger OCD by causing extra anxiety.
View the above behaviors as signals of OCD and not personality traits. In this way, you’ll be able to help your partner with OCD instead of alienating them.
Living With an OCD Spouse
Along with recognizing the signals of OCD, you must do a little more to live peacefully with an OCD spouse. The goal should be to work together, build the relationship up, and make each other comfortable throughout the process.
If you are struggling to do this, try these tips:
Understand How People Get Better
Perhaps one of the more important things to understand about a person with OCD is that they may not get better at the same rate as someone else. The severity of symptoms depends on the individual.
You can help measure progress but don’t set unrealistic expectations. Everyone responds to treatment differently.
When your loved one is at their most symptomatic, comparing them can make those symptoms worse. You especially should not compare someone else’s progress with OCD to the person’s progress whom you are living with.
Someone with OCD may take more effort and time to accomplish something small. As a household member, take note of this and begin noticing even the smallest of improvements. That encouragement can go a long way.
Build a Better Environment
Learn everything you can about the disorder so you can properly encourage and support people with OCD. You’re already doing the right thing by reading through this guide and learning what you can.
To build a better environment, family members should set limits. However, you should still be sensitive to the disorder. Some key things you should stand firm on include:
- Assisting with compulsion agreements
- How much time you spend discussing OCD
- How much reassurance you offer
When someone with OCD is having a bad day, the best thing you can do for them is giving them their space unless there is potential for a violent situation. The good days are when you should encourage loved ones to resist their compulsions.
Manage OCD Together
To properly manage OCD as family members, spouses, or roommates, it is necessary to learn everything you can about the disorder. When you are ill-informed about certain compulsions, you won’t know how to handle them.
It may be in the best interest of everyone to check out a mental health treatment center. If OCD is taking over the life of your loved one, they may need more help than you can provide.
Contact us today to learn about the programs we offer for treating obsessive-compulsive disorder.