What Not to Say to Someone Struggling With OCD

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Understanding OCD: Communication is Key

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a complex mental health condition that is often misunderstood. At New Heights OCD & Anxiety Clinic in North Vancouver, BC, we understand that words have power—especially when it comes to supporting someone with OCD. Below are insights and guidelines on what not to say to someone with OCD and how to communicate supportively.

Why Can’t You Just Stop?

OCD is characterized by unwanted intrusive thoughts and repetitive behaviors, which the individual feels driven to perform despite their best efforts to resist. Telling someone to simply stop their compulsions is akin to telling someone with asthma to breathe normally during an attack. It undermines the severity and complexity of the condition.

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Understanding OCD: That’s Just a Quirk, Everyone Has Them.

While it’s true that many people have quirks, OCD is much more than that. It’s a disorder that significantly interferes with a person’s daily life. Equating OCD with common quirks minimizes the person’s experience and the seriousness of their condition.

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It’s All in Your Head.

Saying this disregards the individual’s very real struggle. While OCD does involve a pattern of unwanted thoughts and fears, these are symptoms of a legitimate medical condition that requires professional treatment.

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You Just Need to Relax.

OCD is not a condition that one can simply relax away from. It often requires therapy, such as Exposure Response Prevention, and in some cases, medication. Encouraging relaxation without acknowledging the need for treatment can feel dismissive.

You’re Being Irrational.

While individuals with OCD may recognize that their thoughts are irrational, they cannot control them. This statement can feel belittling and dismissive of the struggle they face every day.

Tips for Supportive Communication

Instead of the statements above, here are some supportive alternatives:

How Can I Support You?

Asking how you can help is much more constructive. It opens the door for them to share what they’re going through and how you can be there for them.

Your Feelings Are Valid.

Affirm that their feelings are real and that you acknowledge their struggle. This can be incredibly validating for someone who is often battling internal stigma.

Take Your Time.

Encouraging them to take the time they need for therapy and recovery can be comforting, showing that you respect their process.

You Are Not Alone.

Reminding them that they have your support and that they are part of a community can reduce feelings of isolation.

I’m Here to Listen.

Sometimes, just being a listening ear without judgment can provide immense relief.

The Impact of Words and Actions

The journey with OCD is deeply personal, and at New Heights OCD & Anxiety Clinic, we recognize the importance of compassionate understanding. As OCD specialists, we provide our clients with the tools they need to manage their condition while advocating for awareness and sensitivity from those around them.

Seeking Professional Help

If you or a loved one is struggling with OCD, reach out to a qualified OCD therapist. Our clinic in Vancouver, BC, offers specialized OCD treatment with a commitment to personalized care.


Communication can be a powerful tool in supporting someone with OCD. By choosing words that show understanding and empathy, you can make a positive difference in their lives.

Additional Resources

For more information on OCD and how to support someone with this condition, visit the International OCD Foundation at iocdf.org.

Navigating OCD Together

At New Heights OCD & Anxiety Clinic, we stand by our mission to provide a supportive environment for our clients. Contact us to learn more about how we can help.

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By creating content that reflects the informed and compassionate approach of New Heights OCD & Anxiety Clinic, we aim not only to educate but also to foster a community of support and understanding for individuals with OCD.