Overcoming OCD
Information for College Students

Telling Others About Your OCD - Do Family and Friends Need to Know?

In a world of social networking sites, blogs, forwarded emails, “googling” for information about people and personal videos of every sort just a click away, it may seem that everyone’s life is exposed for all to see.  But when it comes to OCD, some people prefer to be more private.

If you’re one of those people, and you’re struggling with whether to tell friends and family about your OCD, here are some things to consider:

Family members and friends are a kind of natural support system.  They care about you.  Chances are they’ve noticed changes in your behavior or already realize something is wrong, even if they haven’t said anything to you about it.  They will probably be happy to know you are getting help, and they may want to help you in any way they can. 

Parents may be able to offer financial assistance if treatment is only available from a therapist in private practice.  Because it is estimated that 25% of people who suffer from OCD may have a relative with this disorder, it’s possible your parents know other family members who have symptoms of OCD.

A friend or roommate may be able to help you by acting as a kind of “coach” to make sure you do your therapist-assigned exposure homework, and take part in your celebrations or rewards as you overcome OCD.  He or she can be a much-needed confidant and also encourage and motivate you when the going gets tough.

Talk with your therapist about whether to tell anyone about your OCD. If he or she thinks you should tell family or friends, ask for suggestions about how to tell the people you select. 

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Additional Resources

These books are good sources of information for family members: