The Effects of OCD On Interpersonal Relationships
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Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) affects approximately 2.2 million Americans each year. The National Institute of Mental Health defines it as “a common, chronic, and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over.”

The norm for people with OCD involves thoughts and behaviors such as a relentless stream of thoughts and urges that play on repeat in their minds, irrational phobias, or the persistent need to do things in a particular order before leaving their homes. Individuals trying to manage OCD symptoms may experience shame, insecurity, or low self-esteem. Such feelings could damage relationships, isolate oneself, and even cause an individual to use substances to cope with difficult emotions.

Dealing with OCD can be frustrating for the person with OCD and others in their life. Imagine the impact these continuous thoughts, urges, and compulsions can have on various relationships in a person’s life. Relationships with romantic partners, friends, and family members can suffer. However, with the correct tools, appropriate diagnosis, and treatment to manage the disorder, individuals can learn how to overcome symptoms and live a fruitful life.

How OCD Impacts Romantic Relationships

Relationship OCD (ROCD) and partner-focused OCD (POCD) are obsessive-compulsive disorders associated with romantic relationships. An individual’s obsessive doubts and compulsive behaviors focus on their romantic relationship and partner. Individuals who struggle with ROCD and POCD have an intensified feeling of fear and lack of reassurance, manifesting in a need for constant comfort from their spouse or partner.

Relationship OCD symptoms often present themselves in thoughts and images about the relationship itself and the strength of feelings toward their significant other. A person with this type of OCD may question, “Is he the right one?” or “Am I really in love with them?” Symptoms can also occur as urges, such as leaving the relationship. In contrast, POCD symptoms focus on the features of the partner. An individual with POCD may love their partner but feel engrossed with questions about their character, cleverness, and imperfections.

Relationship OCD and POCD can cause individuals to seek comfort from their partner, resulting in frustration and confusion when the partner doesn’t recognize or understand the worry and anxiety. It can look like neediness or disrespect for personal boundaries. Furthermore, OCD symptoms can intrude on sexual affection in the relationship, with obsessions related to uncleanliness and distressing sexual thoughts making the individual with OCD sexually avoidant and disappointed in relationships.

How OCD Impacts Relationships With Family and Friends

Individuals struggling with OCD can significantly impact the lives of family members and close friends. Family and friends often report anxiety and depression and feeling burdened by their loved ones with OCD. Some of the burdens involve a disturbance in their social life and financial well-being due to living with their loved one who has OCD. These loved ones may also struggle to take responsibility for daily tasks that the OCD sufferer cannot manage, leading to distress and disruption for everyone.

Those who suffer from OCD could struggle with low self-esteem or feelings of shame, humiliation, and self-doubt, developing into a lack of concern for being around other individuals. These behaviors can make friends and family wrestle with their feelings of isolation and unhappiness. Furthermore, when individuals who struggle with OCD begin acting on their compulsions, it can often become a challenge for family or close friends. For example, they will need to allow time and energy for a person with OCD to complete their routines. They could find themselves contributing to compulsive behaviors that can be demanding, challenging, and tiresome.

Seeking Diagnosis and Treatment

An OCD test can help diagnose the disorder so you can get treated. Treatment can decrease symptoms and enhance the quality of life. Your primary care provider or mental health provider can perform a physical to determine if the symptoms are a side effect of medications or another mental health disorder. If your health care provider decides you have OCD, the next step would include beginning a treatment plan to manage symptoms and overcome the illness.

The most common treatment approaches for OCD are cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), medication, or both. CBT is a type of psychotherapy and is often called “talk therapy.” It teaches the OCD sufferer different methods of thinking, behaving, and responding to obsessions and compulsions. One particular type of CBT used to treat OCD is Exposure and Response Prevention (EX/RP), which involves slowly exposing the individual to any fears or obsessions and then learning healthy coping skills to manage the anxiety. Medicines used to treat OCD include specific types of antidepressants.

Seeking Help for OCD: Resources

It can feel overwhelming when searching for help with mental health disorders. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers the Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator to help find mental health services in your area. In addition, you can find helpful information about treatment facilities that provide specialty care by using SAMHSA’s Early Serious Mental Illness Treatment Locator.

There should be no shame in seeking help for those struggling with mental health disorders. You are not alone. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is one of the most common mental health disorders in the United States, affecting almost 2.2 million people each year. If you or a loved one are ready to turn your illness into success, we want to help. Crownview Co-Occurring Institute in Oceanside, CA, offers psychiatric treatment for many levels of mental disorders. We appreciate that each client is unique, and we provide individualized treatment plans to guarantee quality care is supplied with positive results in recovery. We will support you from crisis to independence by providing healing environments with caring and compassionate professionals ready to help you regain control of your life. Let CCI help you with evidence-based treatments for a successful long-term recovery. Call us today at (760) 477-4754 to learn more about our treatment services.