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New to OCD and need help

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I’m completely new to this. My daughter (21) who has a history of panic disorder and anxiety is having a similar extreme reaction to the pandemic and has developed compulsive routines and behaviours around contamination. I’ve not dealt with OCD before and would appreciate any advice. It’s so hard seeing her suffer but when I try to disrupt or delay compulsive behaviour it cases terrible distress. I’m reading that I should try not to enable. Should I stop buying so much soap, washing powder and fairy liquid? Should I stop trying to get her to understand that her hands are clean the first time she washes them? Is ‘tough love’ required? I don’t think I can do that to her....

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Hi Janet :)

The best place to start for getting help for OCD is your GP. They can refer you to your local IAPT, which is where you can access Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). This is the recommended therapy for OCD. A GP may also offer medications called Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) but it's a personal choice whether your daughter wants to take them, not all sufferers do. 

In the mean time, I wouldn't recommend pulling help from your daughter. It could cause unnecessary conflict and distress for both of you and is unlikely to help her get better. I do think it's important to start talking about OCD though and particularly learning about it. I highly recommend the self-help book Break free from OCD. It talks about what OCD is, how it is maintained and how to start challenging it. Perhaps you could read it together, so you could both learn a dialogue that works for you when your daughter is highly anxious. It's also a great tool to have if you have to wait for therapy.

Your daughter could also look into OCD-UK run support groups, they are being done remotely because of Covid-19 so all she needs is access to a computer. Information for those are here, 


There is also a free to download special edition of the OCD-UK magazine Compulsive Reading, with tips on coping through the pandemic, 


OCD is a very treatable condition with the right help and support, so there is plenty of hope for the future :)

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