Is your partner, relative or friend an OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) sufferer?

If so, please read on . . .

You may have known that the person you care about has suffered with OCD for many years, or you may only have known for a short time. If this person now wants help, this is extremely good news . . and you can help him or her as they work on things that can help.

It is very difficult to cope when OCD starts taking over a person’s life. It is also difficult to see someone giving in to rituals – such as repeated washing or checking again and again. There may be a compulsive urge to give in to rituals, even though the sufferer realises that other people would not need to do these things.

A person with OCD may seek reassurance and avoid things that seem scary. It is natural to want to reassure someone you care about, but with OCD reassurance provides only a temporary relief from anxiety and can become part of the problem. Receiving reassurance leads to more reassurance-seeking – the urge to seek reassurance becomes more frequent and the reassurance can become almost like an addiction. The sufferer needs to agree to stop asking for reassurance. You can help by slowly reducing and then stopping reassurance giving. This needs to be with the consent of your friend or relative, but if you do so together the need to seek reassurance will gradually lessen.

Please note: this suggestion is mainly focused on giving unhelpful reassurance that is driven by anxious fears (“can you check the tap is off . . .”). We are not saying to stop all encouragement etc. Giving praise and offering support and help to sufferers are extremely important when they achieve something difficult or refrain from carrying out a ritual behaviour.

TOP Groups offer a structured self-help programme to OCD sufferers that can help them face their fears and tackle the OCD step by step. Sometimes the person may also need professional help, and a G.P. may decide to prescribe anti-depressants as part of a treatment plan.

We ask sufferers to read ‘Living With Fear’ by Professor Isaac Marks (paperback, McGraw-Hill UK), and especially Chapter 11 ‘Professional treatment’ and Chapter 12 ‘Self-help for your fears and anxiety’. Reading this book or even just chapters 11 and 12 would help you to understand OCD further and ways in which you might be able to help.

Books

      • Overcoming Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, by David Veale & Rob Wilson
      • The Worry Box, by Dr Chris Williams – Four little books and a box to help you stop worrying. Information can be found on the Five Areas Website
      • Mastery of your Anxiety and Panic, by Michelle G. Craske & David H. Barlow
      • Overcoming Anxiety, Stress and Panic: A Five Areas Approach (Hodder Arnold Publication), by Dr Chris Williams Overcoming Shyness and Social Phobia: A Step-by-Step Guide, by Ronald M. Rapee
      • Living with Fear, by Isaac Marks

Free Resources

TOP U.K. aims to help people regain their freedom and be able to live life as they want – without extreme fear and avoidance. Attending a TOP group provides key information and also offers support from others facing similar problems. Please remember the support you give to encourage your family member or friend to attend a Group and keep working at change, even when they feel discouraged, is essential. Thank you for your help.

 

Is your partner, relative or friend a phobia sufferer?

If so, please read on……

You may have known that the person you care about has suffered with a phobia for many years, or you may only have known for a short time.  If this person now wants help, this is extremely good news – and you can support him or her as they work on things that can help.

A phobia may be a minor problem that does not interfere with everyday life, or it may become so severe that it totally restricts daily living. There are many different phobias, including agoraphobia, social phobia and illness phobia.

Phobias can invoke sheer panic, even hysteria, when sufferers suddenly find themselves facing a feared situation or object. Someone with a fear of spiders might flee a room in a state of abject terror when one appears, and this is a very visible sign of a phobia.

However, there are other behaviours which may be hidden from view but which can still make life very difficult. A spider phobic may keep all the doors and windows closed, even on a very hot day, and evenings might be filled with checking and worrying.

Severe phobias restrict sufferers’ lives and stop them from doing things that they previously managed without any problem. Getting help and starting to tackle the fears is an important step towards recovery.

A person with a phobia may seek reassurance and avoid things that seem scary.  It is natural to want to reassure someone you care about, but reassurance gives only a temporary relief from anxiety and can become part of the problem.  Receiving reassurance strengthens the urge to seek more reassurance which becomes more frequent to the point it almost seems like an addiction.

The sufferer needs to agree to you helping them stop asking for reassurance by you withholding reassurance no matter how often it is requested. This needs to be with the consent of your partner, friend or relative, but if you do tackle it together the need to seek reassurance will gradually lessen.

Please note:  this suggestion is mainly focused on giving unhelpful reassurance that is driven by anxious fears (“do you think I look ill . . .”). We are not saying stop all encouragement:  giving praise and offering support and help to sufferers is extremely important when they achieve something difficult.

TOP Groups offer a structured self-help programme for phobia sufferers that can help them face their fears and tackle phobias step by step. Sometimes the person may also need professional help, and a G.P. may decide to prescribe anti-depressants as part of a treatment plan.

We ask sufferers to read ‘Living With Fear’ by Professor Isaac Marks, and especially Chapter 11 ‘Professional treatment’ and Chapter 12 ‘Self-help for your fears and anxiety’.  Reading this book or even just chapters 11 and 12 would help you to understand phobias further and ways in which you might be able to help.  Chapter 9 shows how to withhold reassurance when the phobia sufferer repeatedly asks for it.

Agoraphobia causes sufferers to fear leaving their home or staying at home alone, going into public places, including streets, shops, cinemas, wide open spaces, and various means of travel. Other symptoms may include panics and depression.

The family can be very badly affected, and arguments based around fears and avoidance of daily tasks may become common. Social phobia may lead to avoidance of one area, such as eating in restaurants, or it may extend to all social situations, leaving the sufferer feeling isolated and alone.

TOP U.K. aims to help people regain their freedom and be able to live life as they want – without extreme fear and avoidance. Attending a TOP group provides key information and also offers support from others facing similar problems.

Please remember the support you give to encourage your family member or friend to attend a Group and keep working at change, even when they feel discouraged, is essential. Thank you for your help.

Books

      • Overcoming Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, by David Veale & Rob Wilson
      • The Worry Box, by Dr Chris Williams – Four little books and a box to help you stop worrying. Information can be found on the Five Areas Website
      • Mastery of your Anxiety and Panic, by Michelle G. Craske & David H. Barlow
      • Overcoming Anxiety, Stress and Panic: A Five Areas Approach (Hodder Arnold Publication), by Dr Chris Williams Overcoming Shyness and Social Phobia: A Step-by-Step Guide, by Ronald M. Rapee
        • Living with Fear, by Isaac Marks

Free Resources

TOP U.K. aims to help people regain their freedom and be able to live life as they want – without extreme fear and avoidance. Attending a TOP group provides key information and also offers support from others facing similar problems. Please remember the support you give to encourage your family member or friend to attend a Group and keep working at change, even when they feel discouraged, is essential. Thank you for your help.